Tip of the week: How to properly document resident probations

Residency Program Insider, April 25, 2014

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The program director should use information and evaluations collected from attending physicians, other residents, nurses, technicians, and so on, to determine whether probation is warranted. Although some of these individuals may feel reluctant to put their thoughts on paper for fear of retribution from the resident, it is critical to have a written record that the paper trail is complete.

  • Deficiencies that merit probation include:
  • Inadequate fund of knowledge
  • Poor patient care skills
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Sloppy presentations
  • Poor attendance at departmental education sessions
  • Inability to evaluate and develop management plans for patients
  • Poor in-service exam scores
Once a program director decides that a resident’s lack of performance merits probation, he or she needs to meet with the resident. It is a good idea to have a witness, such as a residency program coordinator, sit in on this meeting.
Documentation is at the heart of this whole process. Without solid documentation of the issues surrounding the probation, you may be on thin ice legally if you have to terminate the resident or not advance him or her to the next level of training.

This tip is from The Graduate Medical Education Committee Handbook, by Vicki Hamm.


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