Ombudsman Program

The ombudsman program for graduate medical education is a resource for residents. Each ombudsman is knowledgeable about hospital processes and graduate medical education training issues, requirements, and procedures. As impartial and confidential resources, the ombudsmen can help residents assess and solve disputes or problems. The ombudsmen do not have the authority to make decisions but can inform and refer residents to the individuals with that authority.

The ombudsman program is an alternative mechanism for residents to voice their concerns and to solve disputes. The program does not take the place of program directors and faculty in listening to resident concerns nor of the designated institutional official in handling due process and grievance procedures. The program supplements the procedures available to residents and described in:

GME procedures are accessible online. HR policies can be accessed via the Houston Methodist intranet, under Policies and Procedures.

Who are the ombudsmen?
The ombudsmen are faculty, residents or administrators who have been appointed with their consent by the director of graduate medical education at Houston Methodist Hospital and the designated institutional official to ensure confidentiality. Our staff participants are as follows:

Dr. Donald Briscoe, MD, Program Director, Family Medicine Residency
Dr. Suzanne Powell, MD, Program Director, Program Director, Anatomic & Clinical Residency and Neuropathology Residency
Rev. Charles Millikan, Vice President, Spirituality
Adrienne Joseph, Vice President, Operations
Heidi Holtorf, MD, PGY-4, Medical Resident
Trevor Burt, EdD, Vice President, Education Administration

Ombudsmen provide services to residents, and no ombudsman will hear the specific concerns of residents in his or her own program. Only the ombudsman will have knowledge of trainees’ requests for assistance.

What can an ombudsman do for me?
  • Hear your issues and concerns
  • Clarify issues of policy and procedures
  • Identify and evaluate your options for managing and resolving conflicts
  • Identify and facilitate avenues of communication
  • Gather information or conduct informal fact-finding
  • Connect you with the appropriate individuals at your request

How can I be sure that the process is confidential?
The ombudsmen will not keep personally identifiable records of matters discussed with them. They may not reveal your identity or discuss your issues or concerns without your specific permission (except as required by law and they must inform you of this).

Are there other ways for me to raise concerns or issues?
There are several mechanisms to raise concerns:
  • To your program director and program faculty; many programs designate a mentor for each resident;
  • To one of the peer-nominated and selected resident representatives to the GMEC (see GME internet website for their names);
  • To the Designated Institutional Official through an open-door policy or confidentially.

You should read and understand the procedures relating to problem solving that apply to you as residents.

To contact an ombudsman:
  1. Use the anonymous online form
  2. Use the confidential email: hmhgmeombud@houstonmethodist.org
    • In the body of the message, describe how you wish to be contacted (by email, by phone, by pager, etc.). You will receive a response from one of our ombudsmen within 1 business (M-F) day. Please feel free to specify which ombudsman you would prefer to respond to you.
  3. In the body of the message, describe how you wish to be contacted (by email, by phone, by pager, etc.). You will receive a response from one of our ombudsmen within 1 business (M-F) day. Please feel free to specify which ombudsman you would prefer to respond to you.
  4. If you do not receive a response or for more information about the Ombudsman Program, please contact :

    David Kusnerik
    Director, Graduate Medical Education
    Houston Methodist Hospital
    dekusnerik@houstonmethodit.org