Neurologic education in emergency medicine training programs

Brian A Stettler, Edward C Jauch, Brett Kissela, Christopher J Lindsell
Academic Emergency Medicine 2005, 12 (9): 909-11

OBJECTIVES: Neurologic complaints are a frequent cause of emergency department visits. The morbidity and mortality of neurologic complaints such as headache and stroke can be extensive. Thus, emergency medicine residency programs should ensure adequate training in such neurologic emergencies. The authors sought to determine what methods are being used to educate residents on neurologic emergencies.

METHODS: A two-page survey was mailed to directors of all 126 accredited emergency medicine residency programs in the United States. The number and types of lectures to residents, required rotations, and electives offered were assessed. Means, standard deviations (SDs), and proportions are used to describe the data. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals of proportions (95% CIs) were calculated.

RESULTS: The response rate was 78% (98 of 126). Programs had a mean (+/- SD) of 5.4 (+/- 1.0) hours of didactic lectures per week, with a mean of 12.0 (+/- 5.9) lecture hours devoted to neurologic emergencies annually. A neurology rotation was required for 16 of the 92 programs providing these data (17.4%; 95% CI = 10.6% to 27.0%), and a neurosurgery rotation was required for 14 of these 92 programs (15.2%; 95% CI = 8.9% to 24.6%). One program (1.1%; 95% CI = 0.1% to 6.8%) required both a neurology and a neurosurgery rotation, and one program (1.1%; 95% CI = 0.1% to 6.8%) required either a neurology or a neurosurgery rotation. On 15 of the 32 required neurologic rotations (46.9%; 95% CI = 29.5% to 65.0%), time was spent only in the intensive care unit. The remaining 17 rotations used outpatient clinic and general floor neurology settings. Electives in neurology, neurosurgery, or neuroradiology were available for 32 programs (32.7%; 95% CI = 24.2% to 42.4%) but were seldom used.

CONCLUSIONS: Currently, the primary method of educating residents to treat neurologic emergencies is through didactic lectures, as opposed to clinical rotations in neurology or neurosurgery. Improving resident education in neurologic emergencies within the current educational format must focus on improving didactic lectures in neurologic topics. Expanding clinical rotations or electives to enhance education in neurologic emergencies also warrants future attention.

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