JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fellows as teachers: a model to enhance pediatric resident education

Carl H Backes, Kris M Reber, Jennifer K B Trittmann, Hong Huang, Jordanna Tomblin, Pamela A Moorehead, John A Bauer, Charles V Smith, John D Mahan
Medical Education Online 2011, 16
21912479

OBJECTIVE: Pressures on academic faculty to perform beyond their role as educators has stimulated interest in complementary approaches in resident medical education. While fellows are often believed to detract from resident learning and experience, we describe our preliminary investigations utilizing clinical fellows as a positive force in pediatric resident education. Our objectives were to implement a practical approach to engage fellows in resident education, evaluate the impact of a fellow-led education program on pediatric resident and fellow experience, and investigate if growth of a fellowship program detracts from resident procedural experience.

METHODS: This study was conducted in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where fellows designed and implemented an education program consisting of daily didactic teaching sessions before morning clinical rounds. The impact of a fellow-led education program on resident satisfaction with their NICU experience was assessed via anonymous student evaluations. The potential value of the program for participating fellows was also evaluated using an anonymous survey.

RESULTS: The online evaluation was completed by 105 residents. Scores were markedly higher after the program was implemented in areas of teaching excellence (4.44 out of 5 versus 4.67, p<0.05) and overall resident learning (3.60 out of 5 versus 4.61, p<0.001). Fellows rated the acquisition of teaching skills and enhanced knowledge of neonatal pathophysiology as the most valuable aspects of their participation in the education program. The anonymous survey revealed that 87.5% of participating residents believed that NICU fellows were very important to their overall training and education.

CONCLUSIONS: While fellows are often believed to be a detracting factor to residency training, we found that pediatric resident attitudes toward the fellows were generally positive. In our experience, in the specialty of neonatology a fellow-led education program can positively contribute to both resident and fellow learning and satisfaction. Further investigation into the value of utilizing fellows as a positive force in resident education in other medical specialties appears warranted.

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