Contributions of general internal medicine teaching units: a national survey

H D Nelson, T G Cooney, K Kroenke, R H Friedman
Journal of General Internal Medicine 2000, 15 (5): 277-83

OBJECTIVE: To identify and describe general internal medicine teaching units and their educational activities.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional mailed survey of heads of general internal medicine teaching units affiliated with U.S. internal medicine training programs who responded between December 1996 and December 1997.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Responses were received from 249 (61%) of 409 eligible programs. Responding and nonresponding programs were similar in terms of university affiliation, geographic region, and size of residency program. Fifty percent of faculty received no funding from teaching units, 37% received full-time (50% or more time), and 13% received part-time (under 50% time) funding from units. Only 23% of faculty were primarily located at universities or medical schools. The majority of faculty were classified as clinicians (15% or less time spent in teaching) or clinician-educators (more than 15% time spent in teaching), and few were clinician-researchers (30% or more time spent in research). Thirty-six percent of faculty were internal medicine subspecialists. All units were involved in training internal medicine residents and medical students, and 21% trained fellows of various types. Half of the units had teaching clinics located in underserved areas, and one fourth had teaching clinics serving more than 50% managed care patients. Heads of teaching units reported that 54% of recent graduating residents chose careers in general internal medicine.

CONCLUSIONS: General internal medicine teaching units surveyed contributed substantial faculty effort, much of it unfunded and located off-campus, to training medical students, residents, and fellows. A majority of their graduating residents chose generalist careers.

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