The impact of the demand for clinical productivity on student teaching in academic emergency departments

Todd J Berger, Douglas S Ander, Metrecia L Terrell, Dana C Berle
Academic Emergency Medicine 2004, 11 (12): 1364-7

OBJECTIVE: Because many emergency medicine (EM) attending physicians believe the time demands of clinical productivity limit their ability to effectively teach medical students in the emergency department (ED), the purpose of this study was to determine if there is an inverse relationship between clinical productivity and teaching evaluations.

METHODS: The authors conducted a prospective, observational, double-blind study. They asked senior medical students enrolled in their EM clerkship to evaluate each EM attending physician who precepted them at three academic EDs. After each shift, students anonymously evaluated 10 characteristics of clinical teaching by their supervising attending physician. Each attending physician's clinical productivity was measured by calculating their total relative value units per hour (RVUs/hr) during the nine-month study interval. The authors compared the total RVUs/hr for each attending physician to the medians of their teaching evaluation scores at each ED using a Spearman rank correlation test.

RESULTS: Seventy of 92 students returned surveys, evaluating 580 shifts taught by 53 EM attending physicians. Each attending physician received an average of 11 evaluations (median score, 5 of 6) and generated a mean of 5.68 RVUs/hr during the study period. The correlation between evaluation median scores and RVUs/hr was -0.08 (p = 0.44).

CONCLUSIONS: The authors found no statistically significant relationship between clinical productivity and teaching evaluations. While many EM attending physicians perceive patient care responsibilities to be too time consuming to allow them to be good teachers, the authors found that a subset of our more productive attending physicians are also highly rated teachers. Determining what characteristics distinguish faculty who are both clinically productive and highly rated teachers should help drive objectives for faculty development programs.


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