The training of pediatric residents in the care of acutely ill and injured children

J L Trainor, S E Krug
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2000, 154 (11): 1154-9

OBJECTIVES: To describe the current educational experience of pediatric residents in pediatric emergency care, to identify areas of variability between residency programs, and to distinguish areas in need of further improvement.

DESIGN: A 63-item survey mailed to all accredited pediatric residency training program directors in the United States and Puerto Rico.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Pediatric residency programs and their directors.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary training settings, required and elective rotations related to the care of the acutely ill and injured child, supervision of care, procedural and technical training, and didactic curriculum in pediatric emergency medicine (PEM).

RESULTS: One hundred fifty-three (72%) of 213 residency programs responded. One hundred nine (71%) were based at general or university hospitals, the remaining 44 (29%) were based at freestanding children's hospitals. Residents most commonly saw patients in pediatric emergency departments (54%), followed by acute care clinics (21%), general emergency departments (21%), and urgent care clinics (5%). The mean number of weeks of PEM training required was 11, but varied widely from 0 to 36 weeks. Forty programs (27%) required their residents to spend 4 or fewer weeks rotating in an emergency department setting. The best predictor of the number of weeks spent in emergency medicine was residency program size, with small programs requiring fewer weeks (7 weeks for small [1-8 postgraduate year 1 residents] vs 13 for medium [9-17 postgraduate year 1 residents] vs 15 for large [> or =18 postgraduate year 1 residents]). Pediatric surgery (18%), orthopedic (8%), anesthesia (6%), and toxicology (4%) rotations were rarely required. Ninety-two percent of the programs had 24-hour on-site attending physician coverage of the emergency department. Supervising physicians varied widely in their training and included PEM attendings and fellows, general emergency medicine attendings, and general pediatric attendings. Small programs were less likely to have PEM coverage (57% at small vs 95% at large) and more likely to have general emergency medicine coverage (79% at small vs 29% at large). Reported opportunities to perform procedures were uniformly high and did not differ by program size or affiliated fellowship. Residency program directors were uniformly confident in their residents' training in medical resuscitation, critical care, emergency care, airway management, and minor trauma. Thirty-seven percent of all respondents were not confident in their residents' training in major trauma. Most programs reported that they had a didactic PEM curriculum (77%), although the number of hours devoted to the lectures varied substantially.

CONCLUSIONS: Wide variability exists in the amount of time devoted to emergency medicine within pediatric residency training curricula and in the training background of attendings used to supervise patient care and resident education. Nevertheless, pediatric residency training programs directors feel confident in their residents training in most topics related to PEM. Residents' training in major trauma resuscitation was the most frequently cited deficiency.

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