Abortion training in family practice residency programs

P P Talley, G R Bergus
Family Medicine 1996, 28 (4): 245-8

BACKGROUND: Despite a relatively fixed demand for services, access to abortion services has become increasingly limited, in part due to fewer training opportunities for OB-GYN residents. The recommended core educational guidelines for family practice residents include voluntary interruption of pregnancy up to 10 weeks gestation, but the availability of and interest in such training have not been reported.

METHODS: A survey questionnaire assessing availability of abortion training, percentage of residents participating, program demographics, and resident interest in training was sent to all US family practice residency program directors and randomly selected third-year residents during the 1993-1994 academic year: A total of 301 of 399 (75%) program directors and 253 of 399 (63%) third-year residents completed the questionnaire.

RESULTS: Twelve percent of programs nationwide offered abortion training during 1993-1994. Western programs were more likely to offer training (18 of 50 or 36%) than Northeastern (7 of 55 or 12%), Midwestern (6 of 98 or 6%), or Southern programs (4 of 98 or 4%). When available, 45% of trainees chose to participate. Training was primarily in suction curettage up to 12 weeks gestational age. The median duration of training was 4 weeks. Training was provided in both freestanding clinics and hospitals. Religious hospitals were less likely to offer training.

CONCLUSIONS: About one of eight family practice residency programs nationwide offer training in abortion. When offered, nearly half of family practice residents choose to participate in this training. Interested family practice residents could be trained to fill an increasing need for physicians willing and able to perform first-trimester abortions.

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