Public health training in internal medicine residency programs: a national survey

Jillian S Catalanotti, David K Popiel, Monique M Duwell, Jessica Hallerman Price, Jacqueline Cole Miles
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014, 47 (5 Suppl 3): S360-7

BACKGROUND: The IOM recommends public health training for all physicians. Data characterizing such training of internal medicine (IM) residents are lacking.

PURPOSE: To describe the current state of public health education at IM residency programs, characterize programs offering public health education, and quantify interest in expanding training opportunities.

METHODS: IM residency program directors from the 380 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited residency programs in the U.S were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey. Responses were received from 127 programs (33%). Data were collected July-December 2012 and analyzed in January 2013. Participants were queried on domestic public health training offered, perceived resident interest in and satisfaction with this training, and interest in expanding training.

RESULTS: Eighty-four respondents (66%) provide some form of public health training, but structure and content vary widely. In many programs offering public health training, few residents (<10%) receive it. Although 93 programs (73%) integrate public health into core curricula, only three topics were common to a majority of these programs. Sixty-six respondents (52%) offer clinical training at community-based health centers. Most residency program directors (90%) are very or somewhat interested in expanding their public health training.

CONCLUSIONS: This study characterizes the structures and content of public health training across IM residency programs. The wide range highlights the diverse definition of "public health training" used by IM residency program directors and lack of universal public health competencies required for IM physicians. Opportunities exist for collaboration among residency programs and between IM and public health educators to share best practices.

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