Integrating Education and Service in Pediatric Residency Training: Results of a National Survey



      The definition and proper role of service, as it relates to education, in the residency training experience has been long debated. In this study we aimed to develop definitions for service and education, delineate how each is perceived to contribute value to training, and to measure respondents' ratings of service and education using case vignettes.


      We conducted a multisite cohort survey study of pediatric residents (n = 797) and program directors (PDs; n = 37) using a region-stratified sample of 2 to 3 participating pediatric residency programs per region.


      Surveys were completed by 34 PDs (92%) and 359 trainees (45%). PDs and residents agree that service can, in the absence of formal teaching, be considered educational. When asked how often rotations provide an appropriate balance between education and service, 94% of PDs responded ‘extremely/very often’ whereas only 68% of residents agreed (P = .005). Residents were significantly more likely than PDs to endorse definitions for service that included volunteer work (82% vs 59%; P = .002), going above and beyond for a patient (91% vs 78%; P = .017), and routine patient care activities (91% vs 72%; P < .001). For 6 of 12 case vignettes, trainees gave median service ratings that were significantly higher than PDs (P = .03).


      Medical educators and pediatric residents hold mismatched impressions of their training programs' balance of service obligations with clinical education. Specifically, residents more frequently report an overabundance of service. Both groups acknowledge that service activities can be educationally valuable although the groups' definitions of service are not fully aligned.


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