Directors recognize difficulties in providing medical care to residents but few implement policies to address them

Michael Grover, Frederick Edwards, Yu Hui Chang, Michael Bryan, Kristina Diaz, Molly Kresin, Carolyn Moats, Richard Engle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Residents find it difficult to access medical care. Some seek care within their own program. Our objectives were to (1) determine whether family medicine program directors see their own resident physicians as patients, (2) describe whether they perceive the residency culture as actively encouraging of this practice, and (3) assess perceptions about reasons to encourage or discourage this. METHODS: We used a paper-based self-administered survey November 2013–January 2014. A stratified random sample of family medicine residencies based on administrative type was used. Participants were directors of sampled programs. The main outcome measure was provision of medical care to resident physicians. RESULTS: A total of 137/250 directors (55%) responded. Thirty (22%) reported seeing residents as patients in their family medicine clinic while 107 did not (78%). Some directors who do see resident patients expressed discomfort in doing so (24%). Participants reported that other faculty physicians were significantly more likely to see residents (56%). Eighty-eight percent (114/129) agreed that “Having a doctor-patient relationship with a resident makes a supervisory relationship more difficult.” Significant differences in attitudes were noted between directors who do and do not provide resident medical care. Few directors (10 %) agreed that their residency culture actively encouraged residents to establish doctor-patient relationships with faculty physicians. Only 16 (12%) had created written policies. CONCLUSIONS: It is uncommon for directors to see residents as patients, but most who do feel comfortable with it. Other faculty physicians provide care more frequently. Directors acknowledge potential difficulties with this practice, but few have addressed these issues by creating specific policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-535
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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