Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine - Current Issue

Academic Medicine, a peer-reviewed monthly journal, serves as an international forum for the exchange of ideas and information about policy, issues, and research concerning academic medicine, including strengthening the quality of medical education and training, enhancing the search for biomedical knowledge, advancing research in health services, and integrating education and research into the provision of effective health care.

imagePurpose To characterize how residents employ rhetorical appeals (i.e., the strategic use of communication to achieve specifiable goals) when discussing unnecessary diagnostic tests with patients. Method In 2015, senior hematology residents from 10 Canadian universities participating in a national formative objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) completed a resource stewardship communication station. In this communication scenario, a standardized patient (SP) portrayed a patient requesting unnecessary thrombophilia testing following early pregnancy loss. The authors performed a thematic analysis of audio transcripts using a qualitative description approach to identify residents’ rhetorical appeals to logic (rational appeals), credibility, and emotion. Results For persuasive communication, residents (n = 27) relied primarily on rational appeals that fit into 3 categories (with themes) focused on medical evidence (poor utility, professional guidelines and recommendations), avoidance of harm (insurance implications, unnecessary or potentially harmful interventions, patient anxiety), and reassurance to patient (normalizing, clinical pretest probability, criteria for reconsidering testing). Appeals to credibility and emotion were rarely used. Conclusions In an OSCE setting, residents relied predominantly on rational appeals when engaging SPs in conversations about unnecessary tests. These observations yield insights into how recent emphasis within residency education on appropriate test utilization may manifest when residents put recommendations into practice in conversations with patients. This study’s framework of rational appeals may be helpful in designing communication curricula about unnecessary testing. Future studies should explore rhetoric about unnecessary testing in the clinical environment, strategies to teach and coach residents leading these conversations, and patients’ preferences and responses to different appeals.
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imagePurpose Limited information exists about medical malpractice claims against physicians-in-training. Data on residents’ involvement in malpractice actions may inform perceptions about medicolegal liability and influence clinical decision-making at a formative stage. This study aimed to characterize rates and payment amounts of paid malpractice claims on behalf of resident physicians in the United States. Method Using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, 1,248 paid malpractice claims against resident physicians (interns, residents, and fellows) from 2001 to 2015, representing 1,632,471 residents-years, were analyzed. Temporal trends in overall and specialty-specific paid claim rates, payment amounts, catastrophic (> $1 million) and small (
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imagePurpose A previous study found that milestone ratings at the end of training were higher for male than for female residents in emergency medicine (EM). However, that study was restricted to a sample of 8 EM residency programs and used individual faculty ratings from milestone reporting forms that were designed for use by the program’s Clinical Competency Committee (CCC). The objective of this study was to investigate whether similar results would be found when examining the entire national cohort of EM milestone ratings reported by programs after CCC consensus review. Method This study examined longitudinal milestone ratings for all EM residents (n = 1,363; 125 programs) reported to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education every 6 months from 2014 to 2017. A multilevel linear regression model was used to estimate differences in slope for all subcompetencies, and predicted marginal means between genders were compared at time of graduation. Results There were small but statistically significant differences between males’ and females’ increase in ratings from initial rating to graduation on 6 of the 22 subcompetencies. Marginal mean comparisons at time of graduation demonstrated gender effects for 4 patient care subcompetencies. For these subcompetencies, males were rated as performing better than females; differences ranged from 0.048 to 0.074 milestone ratings. Conclusions In this national dataset of EM resident milestone assessments by CCCs, males and females were rated similarly at the end of their training for the majority of subcompetencies. Statistically significant but small absolute differences were noted in 4 patient care subcompetencies.
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imagePurpose Individuals 55 or older constitute 28.5% of the U.S. population but 32% of full-time faculty at U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The academic medicine community knows little about the policies, programs, and resources for faculty in pre- and post-retirement stages. The authors sought to inventory the range of institutional resources for late-career faculty development and retirement planning in U.S. LCME-accredited medical schools. Method The authors surveyed 138 medical school faculty affairs deans and leaders in May 2017 to ascertain (1) priorities around retirement, succession planning, and workforce development/support; (2) retirement policies; (3) late-career and retirement resources; and (4) perceived factors impacting faculty retirement. Results Of those invited, 84 (60.9%) responded to the survey, and of these, 44 (52.4%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that retirement planning and support was a top priority in their offices. Less than half (n = 35 [41.7%]) reported that their institution had a retirement policy. The 5 most common late-career and retirement-related resources offered were emeriti or honorific appointments, academic benefits for retirees, phased retirement, retirement counseling, and financial planning. More than half the respondents noted that the following factors impact faculty retirements: physician burnout (43/75 respondents [57.3%]), decreased grant funding (42/75 [56.0%]), and changes in productivity requirements (38/75 [50.7%]). Conclusions These data highlight a distinct, startling gap between the needs of a fast-growing population of late-career faculty and the priorities of their institutions. Faculty affairs/faculty development offices must meet these growing needs.
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imagePurpose National Institutes of Health career development (K) awards mandate specific allocations of effort to research and training. The authors sought to understand pressures perceived by award recipients to change or misrepresent effort, and whether these perceptions differed by gender. Method In 2010–2011 and 2014, the authors surveyed K08 and K23 award recipients. Questions evaluated perceived pressure to change or misrepresent time allocation. Multivariable logistic regression modeling of pressure to misrepresent effort evaluated associations with individual and basic job characteristics. Results Of the 1,719 faculty in the initial target population, 493 women and 573 men (1,066, 62%) responded at both time points. Most respondents reported feeling pressure to increase time spent on professional activities other than their K award-related research or career development or to decrease time on their K award-related research. The likelihood of perceiving pressure differed significantly by gender: 68% of women vs 55% of men (P
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imageProblem Medical students typically perform worse on clinical clerkships that take place early in their training compared with those that occur later. Some institutions have developed transition-to-clerkship courses (TTCCs) to improve students’ preparedness for the clinical phase of the curriculum. Yet, the impact of TTCCs on students’ performance has not been evaluated. Approach The authors developed and implemented a TTCC at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and measured its impact on students’ clerkship performance. During the 2014–2015 academic year, they introduced a 2-week intersession TTCC. The goal was to improve students’ readiness for clerkships by fostering the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to care for patients throughout a hospitalization. The TTCC included panel discussions, skills development sessions, case-based workshops, and a 4-station standardized patient simulation. The authors assessed the feasibility of designing and implementing the TTCC and students’ reactions and clerkship performance. Outcomes The total direct costs were $3,500. Students reacted favorably and reported improved comfort on entering clerkships. Summative performance evaluations across clerkships were higher for those students who received the TTCC with simulation compared with those students who received the standard clerkship orientation (P
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imagePurpose The rise of coaching programs in medical education sparks questions about ways to support physician coaches in learning new educational practices specific to coaching. How coaches learn from one another is of particular interest considering the potential value of social learning. Using communities of practice as a conceptual framework, the authors examine the sense of community and relationships among coaches in a new medical student coaching program, the value of this community, and the facilitators and barriers influencing community development. Method In this qualitative study, investigators conducted 34 interviews with physician coaches at 1 institution over 2 years (2017–2018) and observed 36 coach meetings. Investigators analyzed interview transcripts using thematic analysis and used observation field notes for context and refinement of themes. Results Coaches described a sense of community based on regular interactions; shared commitment to medical education; and new roles with similar experiences, joys, and challenges. They valued the sense of camaraderie and support, learning from one another, and opportunities for professional growth that strengthened their identities as educators and enhanced job satisfaction. Facilitators of community included regular meetings, leadership and administrative support, and informal opportunities to interact outside of meetings. Barriers included time constraints and geographic challenges for coaches at off-site locations. Conclusions The sense of community among coaches was a valued and beneficial part of their coaching experience. Coaches’ interactions and relationships promoted skill acquisition, knowledge transfer, professional development, and career satisfaction. Thus, incorporating support for social learning in coaching programs promotes coach faculty development.
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The demographic shift toward older populations of physicians is well documented across much of the globe. As a result, it is becoming imperative that academic organizations generate research to inform understanding of both individual and institutional needs relating to these faculty members. The 2 reports by Skarupski and colleagues in this issue of Academic Medicine build on the research that is available, expose some new areas for consideration, and raise new lines of inquiry for researchers interested in studying late-career faculty and faculty transitions. The author of this Invited Commentary aims to situate Skarupski and colleagues’ findings relative to what the academic medicine community knows—and does not know—about late-career faculty members, the institutions that employ these faculty, and the complex relationships therewith. Specifically, the author explores the following: the demographics of those considering retirement; the connection between identity and retirement decisions; the alignment between institutional and faculty member needs; institution preparedness; mentoring; and theoretical constructs and areas for inquiry that may inform future investigations.
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imagePurpose To examine the ways in which culture is conceptualized in faculty development (FD) in the health professions. Method The authors searched PubMed, Web of Science, ERIC, and CINAHL, as well as the reference lists of identified publications, for articles on culture and FD published between 2006 and 2018. Based on inclusion criteria developed iteratively, they screened all articles. A total of 955 articles were identified, 100 were included in the full-text screen, and 70 met the inclusion criteria. Descriptive and thematic analyses of data extracted from the included articles were conducted. Results The articles emanated from 20 countries; primarily focused on teaching and learning, cultural competence, and career development; and frequently included multidisciplinary groups of health professionals. Only 1 article evaluated the cultural relevance of an FD program. The thematic analysis yielded 3 main themes: culture was frequently mentioned but not explicated; culture centered on issues of diversity, aiming to promote institutional change; and cultural consideration was not routinely described in international FD. Conclusions Culture was frequently mentioned but rarely defined in the FD literature. In programs focused on cultural competence and career development, addressing culture was understood as a way of accounting for racial and socioeconomic disparities. In international FD programs, accommodations for cultural differences were infrequently described, despite authors acknowledging the importance of national norms, values, beliefs, and practices. In a time of increasing international collaboration, an awareness of, and sensitivity to, cultural contexts is needed.
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The use of term limits in politics and business has been proposed as a means to refresh leadership, encourage innovation, and decrease gender and racial disparities in positions of power. Many U.S. states and the executive boards of businesses have incorporated them into their constitutions and bylaws; however, studies in politics and business have shown that implementing term limits has had mixed results. Specifically, research in politics has shown that term limits have had a minimal effect on the number of women and minorities elected to office, while research in business indicates term limits do increase innovation. Additionally, term limits may have unintended negative consequences, including inhibiting individuals from developing deep expertise in a specific area of interest and destabilizing institutions that endure frequent turnover in leaders. Given this conflicting information, it is not surprising that academic medical centers (AMCs) in the United States have not widely incorporated term limits for those holding positions of power, including deans, presidents, provosts, and department heads. Notably, a few AMCs have incorporated such limits for some positions, and faculty have viewed these positively for their ability to shape a more egalitarian and collaborative culture. Drawing on studies from academic medicine, politics, and business, the author examines arguments both for and against instituting term limits at AMCs. The author concludes that despite strong arguments against term limits, they deserve attention in academic medicine, especially given their potential to help address gender and racial disparities and to encourage innovation.
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imageProblem Gender inequity in academic medicine is a pervasive challenge. Recommendations have been implemented to reduce inequities for female faculty. However, there are no well-established guidelines for the recruitment and retention of female residents. Approach To address challenges faced by female physicians and support the recruitment and retention of female residents, female emergency medicine residents and attending physicians at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania formed a professional development group (PDG), #Shemergency, in July 2017. From July 2017 to July 2018, this PDG developed events and initiatives for female residents that addressed methods to improve awareness of and develop skills relevant to well-described gender disparities in mentorship, speakership and conference representation, compensation, evaluations, wellness and service, and award recognition. Outcomes Over its first year (July 2017–July 2018), the PDG created a professional community and enhanced mentorship through a number of events and initiatives. The PDG secured funding for 5 residents to attend a national conference and nominated 5 residents and 2 attending physicians for professional organization awards (4 nominees won). Next Steps After the first year, the PDG expanded the number of joint activities with both male and female colleagues and organized a citywide event for female residents and faculty representing 5 different residency programs. Future work will focus on sustainability (e.g., holding fundraising events), generalizability (e.g., expanding the gender-disparity areas addressed as well as spreading the model to other programs), developing additional events and initiatives (e.g., expanding the number of joint activities with male colleagues), and outcome assessments (e.g., distributing pre- and postevent surveys).
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Several lawsuits have recently been filed against U.S. universities; the plaintiffs contend that considerations of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions discriminate against Asian Americans. In prior cases brought by non-Latino whites, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these considerations, arguing that they are crucial to a compelling interest to increase diversity. The dissenting opinion, however, concerns the possibility that such policies disadvantage Asian Americans, who are considered overrepresented in higher education. Here, the authors explain how a decision favoring the plaintiffs would affect U.S. medical schools. First, eliminating race and ethnicity in holistic review would undermine efforts to diversify the physician workforce. Second, the restrictions on considering race/ethnicity in admissions decisions would not remedy potential discrimination against Asian Americans that arise from implicit biases. Third, such restrictions would exacerbate the difficulty of addressing the diversity of experiences within Asian American subgroups, including recognizing those who are underrepresented in medicine. The authors propose that medical schools engage Asian Americans in diversity and inclusion efforts and recommend the following strategies: incorporate health equity into the institutional mission and admissions policies, disaggregate data to identify underrepresented Asian subgroups, include Asian Americans in diversity committees and support faculty who make diversity work part of their academic portfolio, and enhance the Asian American faculty pipeline through support and mentorship of students. Asian Americans will soon comprise one-fifth of the U.S. physician workforce and should be welcomed as part of the solution to advancing diversity and inclusion in medicine, not cast as the problem.
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imagePurpose The average age of full-time faculty members at U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education was 49.5 in 2017, yet the academic medicine community knows little about late-career faculty. The authors sought to characterize full-time faculty members 55 or older and assess their work–life expectations. Method The authors conducted a survey (May–September 2017) of faculty 55+ at 14 U.S. medical schools. Results Of the 5,204 faculty members invited, 2,126 (40.8%) responded. The average age of respondents was 62.3, and among those responding to the relevant questions, most identified as male (1,425; 67.2%), white (1,841; 88.3%), and married/partnered (1,803; 85.5%). Fewer than half (915; 45.2%) indicated they had begun thinking about full-time retirement, estimating that they would do so at a mean age of 67.8 (standard deviation = 4.3). Half the respondents (1,004; 50.0%) would consider moving to part-time status. The top 3 personal factors likely to affect retirement decisions were health, postretirement plans, and spouse’s/partner’s plans. The top 3 professional factors were phased retirement or part-time options, changes in institutional leadership, and presence of a successor. Faculty indicated that they would, post retirement, be interested in ongoing work in teaching/education and research/scholarship and that they wanted health insurance, email, and part-time teaching opportunities. Conclusions U.S. medical schools employ a rapidly aging workforce. These data indicate that neither faculty members nor institutions are prepared. Faculty affairs and develop ment leaders should champion efforts to engage with late-career faculty to prepare for this changing landscape.
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imageThrough site visits to 42 teaching clinics associated with family and internal medicine residency programs during 2013–2018, the authors observed a spectrum of faculty involvement. In this Perspective, they describe and share examples of the 3 faculty models they identified. Some programs have a small, focused faculty whose members spend at least 5 half-day sessions per week seeing patients or precepting residents in the clinic. Others have a large, dispersed faculty with many faculty physicians who spend 1 or 2 half-day sessions per week in the clinic. Some use a hybrid model with a small focused faculty group plus other faculty with little clinic time. The dispersed model was observed only in university-based residencies, and the focused faculty model was commonly seen in community-based residencies. While faculty in both settings must juggle multiple responsibilities, several studies have confirmed the value of having faculty committed to ambulatory care and teaching. In site visit interviews, clinic leaders indicated focused faculty play an important role in teaching clinics by championing clinic improvement, improving continuity of care, and enhancing the resident experience. Faculty physicians who spend substantial time in the clinic know the residents’ patients, provide greater continuity of care, anchor clinic teams, and coordinate coverage for residents when they are on other rotations. Clinic and residency program leaders generally favored a shift toward a focused or hybrid model. The authors view the hybrid model as a practical way to balance the challenges of having a focused faculty with the multiple responsibilities facing university- and community-based faculty.
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imagePurpose Tenure status has important implications for medical school faculty recruitment and retention and may affect educational quality, academic freedom, and collegiality. However, tenure trends in academic family medicine are unknown. This study aimed to describe trends in tenure status of family medicine faculty overall and by gender and status of minorities underrepresented in medicine (URM) in Liaison Committee on Medical Education–accredited medical schools. Method Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster data were used to describe trends in tenure status of full-time family medicine faculty, 1977 to 2017. Bivariate and trend analyses were conducted to assess associations and describe patterns between tenure status and gender, race, and ethnicity. Interdepartmental variations in tenure trends over the years were also examined. Results Among family medicine faculty, the proportions of faculty tenured or on a tenure track dropped more than threefold from 1977 (46.6%; n = 507/1,089) to 2017 (12.7%; n = 729/5,752). Lower proportions of women and URM faculty were tenured or on a tenure track than male and non-URM faculty, respectively. But the gaps among them were converging. Compared with other clinical departments, family medicine had the highest proportion of faculty (74.6%; n = 4,291/5,752) not on a tenure track in 2017. Conclusions Proportion of tenure positions significantly decreased among family medicine faculty in U.S. medical schools. While gaps between male and female faculty and among certain racial/ethnic groups remained for family medicine tenure status, they have decreased over time, mainly because of a substantial increase in nontenured positions.
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imageAn important tenet of competency-based medical education is that the educational continuum should be seamless. The transition from undergraduate medical education (UME) to graduate medical education (GME) is far from seamless, however. Current practices around this transition drive students to focus on appearing to be competitively prepared for residency. A communication at the completion of UME—an educational handover—would encourage students to focus on actually preparing for the care of patients. In April 2018, the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education consortium meeting included a debate and discussion on providing learner performance measures as part of a responsible educational handover from UME to GME. In this Perspective, the authors describe the resulting 5 recommendations for developing such a handover: (1) The purpose of the educational handover should be to provide medical school performance data to guide continued improvement in learner ability and performance, (2) the process used to create an educational handover should be philosophically and practically aligned with the learner’s continuous quality improvement, (3) the educational handover should be learner driven with a focus on individualized learning plans that are coproduced by the learner and a coach or advisor, (4) the transfer of information within an educational handover should be done in a standardized format, and (5) together, medical schools and residency programs must invest in adequate infrastructure to support learner improvement. These recommendations are shared to encourage implementation of the educational handover and to generate a potential research agenda that can inform policy and best practices.
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imageSecuring extramural grant funding and publishing in peer-reviewed journals are key indicators of success for many investigators in academic settings. As a result, these expectations are also sources of stress for investigators and trainees considering such careers. As competition over grant funding, costs of conducting research, and diffusion of effort across multiple demands increase, the need to submit high-quality applications and publications is paramount. For over 3 decades, the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco, has refined an internal, presubmission, peer review program to improve the quality and potential success of products before external submission. In this article, the rationale and practical elements of the system are detailed, and recent satisfaction reports, grant submission outcomes, and plans for ongoing tracking of the success rates of products reviewed are discussed. The program includes both early-stage concept reviews of ideas in their formative state and full product reviews of near-final drafts. Recent evaluation data indicate high levels of reviewee satisfaction with multiple domains of the process, including scheduling the review sessions, preparedness and expertise of the reviewers, and overall quality of the review. Outcome data from reviews conducted over a recent 12-month period demonstrate subsequent funding of 44% of proposals reviewed through the program, a success rate that surpasses the National Institutes of Health funding success rates for the same time period. Suggestions for the sustainability of the program and for its adoption at other institutions and settings less dependent on extramural funding are provided.
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imageCenters and institutes are created to support interdisciplinary collaboration. However, all centers and institutes face the challenge of how best to evaluate their impact since traditional counts of productivity may not fully capture the interdisciplinary nature of this work. The authors applied techniques from social network analysis (SNA) to evaluate the impact of a center for interprofessional education (IPE), a growing area for centers because of the global emphasis on IPE.
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imagePurpose Most evaluations of quality improvement and patient safety (QI/PS) training programs provide inadequate data on their impact on alumni careers and QI/PS involvement. To address this gap, the authors investigated continued participation in and barriers to QI/PS work, employment, and satisfaction with training among alumni of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief Resident in Quality and Safety (CRQS) program. Method A cross-sectional, web-based survey was administered in January 2018 to all 238 CRQS program alumni (program years 2009–2017, 54 program sites). Results A total of 145 alumni (61%) completed the survey, of whom 40% were employed at the VA. Participants reported various professional roles including academic appointments, QI/PS-specific positions, and hospital leadership positions. Most respondents reported involvement in QI/PS activities within the past year, including conducting QI or PS projects and teaching QI or PS. Alumni dedicated a median 15% of their work time to QI/PS. Almost all alumni reported experiencing barriers to QI/PS involvement, most frequently lack of time given clinical responsibilities. Most were satisfied with the training, and almost all reported CRQS participation helped their professional career advancement. Conclusions The continued involvement in QI/PS reported by alumni suggests training programs such as the CRQS program may be successful in building a workforce of leaders equipped to conduct and teach QI/PS. Dedicated time for QI/PS efforts is an important barrier. Future research should address possible career options and assess the larger, overall effect training physicians in QI/PS has on health systems and patient care.
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imagePurpose The Next Accreditation System requires training programs to demonstrate competence among trainees. Within gastroenterology (GI), there are limited data describing learning curves and structured assessment of competence in esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and colonoscopy. In this study, the authors aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of a centralized feedback system to assess endoscopy learning curves among GI trainees in EGD and colonoscopy. Method During academic year 2016–2017, the authors performed a prospective multicenter cohort study, inviting participants from multiple GI training programs. Trainee technical and cognitive skills were assessed using a validated competence assessment tool. An integrated, comprehensive data collection and reporting system was created to apply cumulative sum analysis to generate learning curves that were shared with program directors and trainees on a quarterly basis. Results Out of 183 fellowships invited, 129 trainees from 12 GI fellowships participated, with an overall trainee participation rate of 72.1% (93/129); the highest participation level was among first-year trainees (90.9%; 80/88), and the lowest was among third-year trainees (51.2%; 27/53). In all, 1,385 EGDs and 1,293 colonoscopies were assessed. On aggregate learning curve analysis, third-year trainees achieved competence in overall technical and cognitive skills, while first- and second-year trainees demonstrated the need for ongoing supervision and training in the majority of technical and cognitive skills. Conclusions This study demonstrated the feasibility of using a centralized feedback system for the evaluation and documentation of trainee performance in EGD and colonoscopy. Furthermore, third-year trainees achieved competence in both endoscopic procedures, validating the effectiveness of current training programs.
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imagePurpose Difficulty in recruiting and retaining community preceptors for medical student education has been described in the literature. Yet little, if any, information is known about community outpatient preceptors who have stopped or decreased teaching time with students. This study aimed to examine these preceptors’ perspectives about this phenomenon. Method Using a phenomenology framework, this multi-institutional qualitative study used semistructured interviews with community pediatric preceptors who had stopped or reduced teaching time with medical students. Interviews were conducted between October 2017 and January 2018 and transcribed verbatim. Interviews explored factors for engaging in teaching, or decreasing or ceasing teaching, that would enable future teaching. An initial code book was developed and refined as data were analyzed to generate themes. Results Twenty-seven community pediatricians affiliated with 10 institutions participated. Thirty-seven codes resulted in 4 organizing themes: evolution of health care, personal barriers, educational system, and ideal situations to recruit and retain preceptors, each with subthemes. Conclusions From the viewpoints of physicians who had decreased or stopped teaching students, this study more deeply explores previously described reasons contributing to the decline of community preceptors, adds newly described barriers, and offers strategies to help counter this phenomenon based on preceptors’ perceptions. These findings appear to be manifestations of deeper issues including the professional identify of clinical educators. Understanding the barriers and strategies and how they relate to preceptors themselves should better inform education leaders to more effectively halt the decline of community precepting and enhance the clinical precepting environment for medical students.
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