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Communication Skills of Grandview/Southview Medical Center General Surgery Residents.

Context: In the transition of osteopathic programs to the single-accreditation graduate medical education (GME) system, residents are required to demonstrate skill in a set of core competencies identified by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) prior to graduation. Included in those core competencies are interpersonal and communication skills along with professionalism.

Objectives: To assess strengths and weaknesses of residents' interpersonal communication skills and professionalism in the Grandview/Southview Medical Center (Dayton, OH) osteopathic general surgery program using the validated Communication Assessment Tool (CAT).

Methods: From November 2014 to June 2018, all patients who presented for an appointment at the Cassano General Surgery Clinic were asked by a medical assistant to complete a CAT questionnaire following their encounter with a resident physician. Patients at Cassano, an outpatient office-based facility directed to the underserved local community, are seen first by an intern, then by a 4th or 5th year resident and later by an attending physician. Patients 18 years of age or older were included; patients were excluded if they were unable to understand or read English. Patient demographics were collected, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, and previous exposure to this resident physician. Each resident's name was replaced on the CAT with a number for data analysis. The resident variables collected for this study included year of training, gender, and native language.

Results: The mean response for all CAT items was 4.5 out of 5, indicating that responses to resident performance were largely positive. Patients responded to 4 of the 14 CAT items with only excellent, very good, or good responses and no fair or poor responses. Four items had only 1 fair or poor response. The remaining 6 items received more than 1 fair or poor response: "greeted me in a way that made me feel comfortable" (#1), "talked in terms I could understand" (#8), "encouraged me to ask questions" (#10), "involved me in decisions as much as I wanted" (#11), "showed care and concern" (#13), and "spent the right amount of time with me" (#14).

Conclusions: Attending surgeons evaluate residents in multiple areas from a doctor's perspective, but there is a potential lack of correlation between that evaluation and a patient's experience, which is paramount in osteopathic medicine. Patient responses to the CAT questionnaire can be used by program directors to identify deficiencies in milestone/competency achievement and facilitate improvement both individually and programmatically for residents according to ACGME standards.

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