Assessing the needs of residency program directors to meet the ACGME general competencies

Jeanne K Heard, Ruth M Allen, James Clardy
Academic Medicine 2002, 77 (7): 750

OBJECTIVE: New accreditation requirements for residency training programs require residents to have educational experiences that allow them to demonstrate competency in the following areas: (1) patient care, (2) medical knowledge, (3) practice-based learning and improvement, (4) interpersonal and communication skills, (5) professionalism, and (6) systems-based practice. Residents' competence must be assessed with dependable measures. Residency training program directors (PDs) need assistance in complying with these new requirements.

DESCRIPTION: Using a survey modified from Michigan State University, we asked PDs to rate their current understanding of and preparation for the general competencies and to provide written comments. PDs of the 47 ACGME-accredited programs received e-mailed instructions to complete the Web-based survey. Twenty-four PDs (51%) complied by the deadline. The mean ratings were calculated from a five-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, major impediment or least useful, 5 = strongly agree, not an impediment, or most useful). PDs felt they were informed (3.45) and understood (3.67) the requirements, but they were not well prepared to meet them (2.95). The perceived impediments to implementation included amount of PD time (2.27), amount of residents' protected time for the curriculum (2.30), amount of residency support staff (2.73), lack of expertise in curriculum development (2.73) and evaluation (2.41), and lack of funding for resources other than personnel (2.91). PDs rated types of assistance that would be helpful: developing workshops or presentations on curriculum development and evaluation techniques (3.82), developing curricula (4.14), providing one-on-one consultation (4.23), receiving examples of materials, methods, and ideas from other programs (4.41), and describing evaluation methods/instruments (4.50). Written comments stated that time to concentrate on the topic, release time from clinical responsibilities, and technical computer support would be helpful. Of the six competency areas, PDs were most interested in receiving assistance in developing curricular materials for the competencies of systems-based practice (4.50), professionalism (4.36), and practice-based learning and improvement (4.27). PDs were most interested in receiving assistance in developing evaluations for practice-based learning and improvement (4.59), professionalism (4.59), interpersonal and communication skills (4.45), and systems-based practice (4.36). PDs responded that they currently use written faculty evaluations to assess all six general competency areas.

DISCUSSION: Results of the survey indicate that PDs require assistance to comply with the new ACGME requirements. Curricular materials and valid and reliable evaluation methods need to be developed. In order to assist PDs, the following activities are under way: (1) PDs are members of a listserve for sharing ideas and examples of curricular and evaluation materials; (2) PDs attend a monthly seminar series that provides practical information for curricular material development and specific evaluation methods, including indications for use and feasibility; (3) educators from our Office of Educational Development provide individual consultations with each PD; (4) PDs participate in an eight hour workshop with practical sessions for developing curricular materials and evaluations; and (5) two institution-wide assessments are being developed: a patient-satisfaction survey and a 360-degree evaluation to assess communication skills and professionalism.

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