COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Resident and program director perspectives on third-year family medicine programs

Michael Green, Richard Birtwhistle, Ken MacDonald, Jason Schmelzle
Canadian Family Physician Médecin de Famille Canadien 2009, 55 (9): 904-5.e1-8
19752262

OBJECTIVE: To determine the views of family medicine (FM) program directors, third-year program coordinators, and residents on the factors affecting demand and allocation of postgraduate year 3 (PGY3) positions and the effects of these programs on the professional activities of program graduates.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys and key informant interviews.

SETTING: Ontario (FM residents) and across Canada (program directors) in 2006.

PARTICIPANTS: All FM residents in Ontario and all core program directors and PGY3 program coordinators nationally were eligible to participate in the surveys. Eighteen key informant interviews were conducted, all in Ontario. Interviewees included all FM program directors, selected PGY3 program coordinators, residents, and other community stakeholders.

METHODS: Resident surveys were Web-based; invitations to participate were delivered by FM programs via e-mail lists. The program director and coordinator surveys were postal surveys. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and the authors coded the interviews for themes.

MAIN FINDINGS: Response rates for the surveys were 34% to 39% for residents and 78% for program directors and coordinators. Respondents agreed that programs should include flexible training options of varied duration. Demand for training is determined more by resident need than community or health system factors, and is either increasing or stable. Overall, respondents believed that approximately one-third of core program graduates should have the opportunity for PGY3 training. They thought re-entry from practice should be permitted, but mandatory return-of-service agreements were not desired. Program allocation and resident selection is a complex process with resident merit playing an important role. Respondents expected PGY3 graduates to practise differently than PGY2 graduates and to provide improved quality of care in their fields. They also thought that PGY3 graduates might play larger roles in leadership and teaching than core program graduates.

CONCLUSION: It is likely that PGY3 programs will continue to grow and form an increasingly important part of the FM training system in Canada. Flexible programs that can adapt to changing educational, health system, and community needs are essential. Training programs and national and provincial colleges of FM will also need to ensure that these physicians are provided with opportunities to maintain their links with the rest of the FM community.

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