Continuity of Care in Fixed-Day Versus Variable-Day Resident Continuity Clinics


      Since the introduction of resident work-hour standards, pediatric residency programs have struggled to preserve robust continuity clinic experiences. Many programs have resorted to more flexible approaches to resident scheduling. We know little regarding the impact of such changes. We compared 2 continuity clinic scheduling models: a traditional fixed-day clinic and a variable-day clinic in which resident clinic days vary each week to accommodate resident schedules.


      The setting for our study was a large university resident continuity clinic. We analyzed 111 resident schedules and 1113 visits by children aged younger than 1 year during 2 periods: July 2007 to December 2007, when residents were scheduled by using a variable-day clinic model, and July 2008 to December 2008, when a fixed-day model was used. We compared the number of clinic sessions per resident and continuity of care. We used the usual provider of care definition of continuity: the proportion of visits in which a patient is seen by his or her primary resident. A multivariable logistic regression was used to model the relationship between patient continuity of care and clinic structure (fixed-day vs variable-day), resident level, patient age, and appointment type.


      The number of clinics per resident during a 6-month period was higher using variable-day scheduling (19.6 vs 16.2; P < .01), whereas continuity of care was lower (0.54 vs 0.61; P = .01) In the multivariate model, continuity of care was significantly higher under the fixed-day model (odds ratio 1.40; P < .01).


      Scheduling residents for continuity clinic on variable days results in lower patient continuity of care despite increased resident time in clinic.

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