Preparing medical students for residency

Residency Program Insider, May 2, 2014

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Even after four years of medical school and standardized tests, some trainees aren’t prepared for routine tasks such as drawing blood or preparing a patient for surgery, Pauline W. Chen, MD, writes.

In a recent New York Times Well blog post, Chen considers why medical students aren’t always prepared for training. Recounting her own experience in training, she suggests medical schools often emphasize certain skills at the expense of others—one trainee she worked with was good at drawing blood, but didn’t know how to prepare a patient for surgery. Another could prepare a patient for surgery, but didn’t know what to do in the operating room.
The problem may be a lack of coordination between medical schools and residency programs, Chen writes. The skills medical schools choose to emphasize may not align with those needed in residency.
To combat the silo effect, medical educators recently surveyed internal medicine residency program directors to identify the skills an incoming trainee should have and published the results in a recent Academic Medicine article. The skills the program directors most highly valued were:
  • Time-management and prioritization
  • Effective communication
  • Basic clinical skills
  • Knowing when to ask for assistance
Steven Angus, MD, the lead author of the article and an internal medicine residency program director, told Chen he believed the study would lead to more collaboration between medical schools and residency programs.

“We’re stepping out of our silos and talking a lot more now,” Angus said.


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