Medical Student Administrator Certificate Program

In support of ACE’s mission, we strongly advocate for continuing professional development of educational administrative staff.  For those working in pre-clinical medical education and clinical medical education, the role of educational administrators is essential to the success of  medical student education.  This site promotes the certificate program created by ACE’s executive director and past president, Dr. Fred McCurdy.

The Medical Student Administrator Certificate Program was developed to foster leadership amongst individuals responsible for managing clerkships and other medical education courses.  Being a leader in medical education does not require a title. What is important is one’s desire to make a difference. This is done by looking for opportunities to lead, not waiting for someone to ask. Look for what problems need solutions. Initiative is a pre-requisite to influence. Be alert. Pay attention. Get involved.

This program was designed to guide individuals through a process of understanding their own mission and vision of their career, how that intersects with their organization, and how to contribute in a meaningful way.

Medical Student Administrator Certificate Program

This is the initial program for certification.  As part of this program, participants will complete a series of workshops in one session. These workshops include:

Embracing Leadership Potential

The objectives for this session are:

  • Describe the importance of enhancing your career
  • Discover key leadership concepts
  • Explore your role as a leader in medical education
  • Identify core values and career objectives
Exploring Individual Growth Potential and Communication Skills

The objectives for this session are:

  • Explore qualities, traits, skills, and preferences that can empower you to expand your individual growth potential
  • Discuss the significance of communication within a team and with the medical students

Time will be spent brainstorming how you can make a difference at home. To complete the program, you will complete a quality improvement project over the course of the year.  More details will be provided about how your final project will be reported.

Accreditation Workshop for Clerkship Administrators

Accreditation is an essential part of the medical education process. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education has many elements that relate to the clinical experiences for medical students. Therefore, familiarity with these elements is essential for the clerkship administrator.  This workshop addresses the following:

  • Who is the LCME?
  • What is included in LCME accreditation?
  • What is involved in an accreditation site visit?
  • What LCME elements pertain to clerkships?
  • How can accreditation requirements be integral in the day-to-day clerkship operations?

Medical Student Administrator Certificate Program

April 3, 2024
Time: 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM CT
COMSEP 2024 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA



June 20, 2024
Time: TBD
ADMSEP 2024 Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA

Accreditation and the Medical Student Administrator Certificate Program

To be notified of upcoming virtual sessions, email

Tiffany Swain


Tiffany Swain is the Clinical Education Specialist for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. Her educational background includes Advanced Individual Training in Unit Supply courses for the United States Army, courses required for her military training – Basic German Language, Unit Level Supply Course for ULLS-4 Software, and Database Applications; she received her Associate of Arts in 2021 where she graduated with Honors and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Sigma Delta Chapter, in 2018. Upon completion of military service, Ms. Swain began her career at UTMB, working with nursing students from 2003 to 2007 and then transitioned to the Department of Pediatrics where she has been working with medical students ever since. Ms. Swain has a love for education and working with students. She takes pride in the work she does, which shows in all the recognitions she has received. She was awarded for Excellence in Support of Pediatric Education in 2010, 2013, and 2020; recognized with an Employee Appreciation Award for Exemplary Performance in Customer Service (2014) and Outstanding Performance in Innovation and Improvement (2015); and nominated for the President’s Way to Go Award for Regents Outstanding Employee in 2018. Ms. Swain completed the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program in 2017. She has been involved with COMSEP for 10 years.

Cathy Chavez

Cathy Chavez has been the Pediatric Program Administrator for the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics since 2001.  Ms. Chavez completed the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program in 2006. She has been involved with COMSEP for 10 years.

Wilhelmina Bradford, B.A.

Wilhelmina Bradford’s degree is in Elementary Education where she taught language arts, social studies, and physical education.  She transitioned to the emerging fields of PC computing and network technology in the early 80’s to 2002.  During her technology career she worked in orders and accounts receivables, in human factors software analysis, teamed in computer and network installation projects, and held coordinator and project leader roles. Wilhelmina has spent the last 16 years at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC as a Pediatric Program Coordinator for The George Washington University 3rd and 4th year programs.  She has created electronic access for students and faculty through website content development and design. She received her Clerkship Administrators Certification in 2011 and has worked on the Coordinator and Technology Task Forces of COMSEP, a national organization for Pediatric Clerkship Directors.  She was awarded the COMSEP Excellence in Clerkship Administration award in 2019.  Wilhelmina became the Clerkship Administrator’s Collaborative Leader in COMSEP in 2019 and currently is a member of the DEI task force, the COMSEP Collaborative Leaders working group and is a member of the planning team for the COMSEP conference in March, 2022. 

Gretchen Shawver


Althea Scott, EdD


Althea Scott, EdD, is the Director of the Department of Psychiatry Advanced Clinical Rotations (ACRs) at the Uniformed Services University (USU) in Bethesda, MD. This role involves overseeing the function and quality of medical education and collaborating with Site Directors to ensure consistency across multiple clinical sites. Dr. Scott also serves as the Psychiatry Clerkship Administrator, playing a pivotal role in shaping the medical students’ experience in the psychiatry clerkship course. In addition to the administrative roles, Dr. Scott has held an academic appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the USU School of Medicine (SoM) since 2018. Furthermore, as a Dean’s Fellow, Dr. Scott engages in scholarly research to improve teaching and administration within the SoM. Dr. Scott is the 2023 recipient of the Excellence in Clerkship Administration Award from the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP). She completed the Clerkship Administrator certificate program in 2022, demonstrating a commitment to ongoing professional development and quality improvement processes.


Donnita Pelser, B.A.


Donnita Pelser has been the Pediatric Program Administrator at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita since 2000. She has served as leader of the COMSEP Administrators Collaborative from 2010-2013. Ms. Pelser completed the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program in 2008. She was awarded the COMSEP Excellence in Clerkship Administration Award in 2014. Currently, she serves on the AAP Pedialink for Medical Students Workgroup Editorial Board.

Alison D. Ricker, M.S.

After 8 years as a licensed Preschool Teacher, Alison started in medical education as a Residency Program Assistant for the Department of Pediatrics.  She transitioned to the Pediatric Clerkship, where she achieved her Clerkship Administrator Certificate and worked with the Coordinator Task Force of COMSEP, the National organization for Pediatric Clerkship Directors.  After 10 years in Pediatrics, Alison transitioned to the Office of Faculty Development, focused her free time on completing her Master’s Degree in Communication with a focus on Learning and Training. In 2016, Alison moved into the role of Director of the Clinical Curriculum where she facilitates a wide variety of aspects of the 3rd and 4th year medical student curriculum.



Gary L. Beck Dallaghan, Ph.D.

Gary Beck Dallaghan, Ph.D. is the director of educational scholarship and research associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.  In this role, Dr. Beck Dallaghan conducts educational research for the School of Medicine, working with faculty and students on a variety of projects.  Since taking this role in August, 2018, he has published over 40 peer-review articles.  Prior to that, he had spent over 20 years at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine where he was the director of the Office of Medical Education.  He was also assistant dean for medical education.  Additionally, he has been the executive director of the Alliance for Clinical Education since 1997.  Dr. Beck Dallaghan along with Dr. Fred McCurdy created the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program.  

Examples of Past Projects

Listed below are examples of projects completed in the past.  These are offered as examples of topics certificate program participants have completed.

  • The Concise CRISIS Management Guide for Medical Students
  • Boot Scootin’ Boogie Collaboration to Achieve Success in Both Resident and Student Education
  • Implementation of the OB/GYN Grading Program Weighing the Benefits
  • Mixed Methods: Evaluation of Inpatient Learning Environment in Two Hospitals
  • Analyzing NBME Minimum Passing Scores when Students do CLIPP cases
  • Enhancing the Clerkship Orientation Experience

Examples of Project Proposals

The first time writing a project proposal can be challenging and somewhat daunting.  The following are examples of project proposals following our recommended format.


Step by Step Resources

We are compiling resources to provide guidance on how to undertake your projects.  We have sought out peer-reviewed resources published in journals or brief webinars created by the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics Research & Scholarship Collaborative.

In 2003, the executive committee of the Central Group on Educational Affairs (CGEA) of the Association of American Medical Colleges recognized a need for professional development for clerkship administrators. Educational administrative staff was absent from meetings and the leaders of the CGEA wanted to offer a program specifically for them. The CGEA Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program emerged from that decision and presented for the first time in 2004 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Drs. Fred McCurdy and Gary Beck Dallaghan created a program promoting leadership skills for clerkship administrators.  The sessions focused on having a better understanding of one’s self, one’s department and one’s institution.  Participants explored how their personal goals and values intersected with their work environment.  Additionally, leadership was addressed, pointing out how we all lead in some capacity (with or without a title).

In order to successfully complete the program, participants had to complete a project over the course of the year to present at the next meeting.  This project could be a quality improvement project or assist with an educational research project with the clerkship director.

In 2006, Ms. Ginny Cleppe from the Medical College of Wisconsin joined the team.  At that time we incorporated a session related to the relational aspects of leadership.  Gaining an understanding of emotional intelligence and practicing communication skills in various settings were part of this session.

In recent years the team has undertaken more rigorous evaluations of this program.  This has resulted in peer-review publications that we have listed below:

  1. Pelser D, Chavez C, Allison L, Cleppe V, Beck Dallaghan GL.  Professional Development for Clerkship Administrators: A 16-Year Overview of the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program. Med Ed Online 2020; 25(1):1710327. DOI: 10.1080/10872981.2019.1710327.
  2. Ricker AD, Pelser D, Beck Dallaghan GL. Eight-Year Investigation of the Impact of the Clerkship Administrator Certificate Program. Cureus 2022; 14(4):e24024. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.24024.