What do senior internal medicine residents do in their continuity clinics

Aurora Affiliations

Aurora Sinai Medical Center


OBJECTIVE: To describe the activities of second- and third-year internal medicine residents during their outpatient continuity clinics.

DESIGN: Descriptive observational study.

SETTING: Medical school-affiliated community hospital primary care clinic.

PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: All second-year (n = 15) and third-year (n = 14) residents enrolled in the internal medicine training program were observed at one-minute intervals during their routine half-day continuity clinics.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: An average of 203 observations were recorded for each resident. The distribution of resident activities was as follows: 1) direct interaction with patients (29.5%); 2) charting or writing prescriptions (24.0%); 3) social interactions with staff (13.7%); 4) attending conferences or reviewing medical literature (9.4%); 5) waiting or transiting (8.2%); 6) ward responsibilities (4.9%); 7) reviewing cases with attending physicians (4.4%); and 8) miscellaneous activities (4.9%). Analysis of variance procedures revealed that the following variables significantly (p < 0.05) affected the residents' activities: 1) the actual number of patients seen produced predictable increases in direct and indirect patient care activities; and 2) the year of training had an impact on the mean number of observations of interactions with the supervising attending physician (PGY-2 = 11.4, PGY-3 = 3.8).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that this senior resident continuity experience is clinically intensive, yet provides surprisingly infrequent direct resident supervision. Further analysis of the educational activities occurring on these half-days is necessary to judge whether they are quantitatively and qualitatively adequate.

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