The AFMRD has engaged the AAFP’s National Research Network (NRN) to study factors related to program director tenure. Nationally recognized researcher Doug Fernald, BA, MA, and his team from the AAFP National Research Network will be conducting interviews with program directors to assess important factors in an IRB approved research study.


The median tenure of a family medicine residency program director is 4.5 years. The AFMRD believes it would be useful to better understand why program directors leave their positions. More knowledge about the reasons behind program director departures could inform AFMRD efforts to support and develop programming for program directors and other leaders, which could ultimately improve family medicine residency education.

Additionally, there is a substantial cohort of residency directors who have been in their positions for over 12 years. It is not known what factors have contributed to that longevity. Understanding their experiences may inform development and support programming and innovation.

The study will be conducted in two phases as outlined above. It is expected to take 18 months to gather the data and 6 months to analyze the data and submit for publication. Timeline is approximately June 2019 – June 2021.  AFMRD President Steven R. Brown, MD, FAAFP is co-authoring the study.

Phase I Completed

In phase 1 we interviewed 25 program directors departing their positions to understand factors related to this departure. Our findings have been submitted for publication and have been accepted as a presentation at the virtual NAPCRG meeting November 2020. We hope to present these findings at future AAFP Program Director Workshops.

Phase 2 Program Director Recruitment

Program Directors who have been in their position for at least 12 years will be interviewed for Phase 2 of the study to determine factors related to longevity. Contact information from those members willing to participate in a one-hour phone interview will be provided to Doug Fernald, BA, MA, and his team. Interested program directors with over 12 years of tenure can contact Sam Pener (spener@aafp.org or 913-906-6359). 


Questions about this study may be directed to Steven R. Brown, MD (Steven.Brown@bannerhealth.com).