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Recently Trained General Pediatricians: Perspectives on Residency Training and Scope of Practice

Freed GL, Dunham KM, Switalski KE, Jones MD Jr, McGuinness GA; Research Advisory Committee of the American Board of Pediatrics
Pub Med #: 

Because of the increase in both the prevalence and complexity of chronic diseases in children, there is heightened awareness of the need for general pediatricians to be prepared to comanage their patients with chronic disorders with subspecialists. It is not known currently how well prepared general pediatricians believe themselves to be for these roles after residency training. This study was conducted to determine the perspectives of recently trained general pediatricians in practice regarding their decisions on residency choice, career choice, and adequacy of training.

A random sample of 600 generalists whose initial application for general pediatric certification occurred between 2002 and 2003 (4-5 years out of training) and 600 generalists who applied for board certification between 2005 and 2006 and who were not currently enrolled in or had completed subspecialty training (1-2 years out of training) received a structured questionnaire by mail. The survey focused on decision-making in selection of residency programs, strength of residency training in preparation for clinical care, and scope of practice.

The overall response rate was 76%. The majority of generalists reported that their residency training was adequate in most subspecialty areas. However, a large proportion of generalists indicated that they could have used additional training in mental health (62% [n = 424]), sports medicine (51% [n = 345]), oral health (52% [n = 356]), and developmental/behavioral pediatrics (48% [n = 326]). Most generalist respondents reported that they are comfortable comanaging cases requiring subspecialty care with a subspecialist. However, generalist respondents without local access to subspecialists were more likely to report that they are comfortable managing patients who require subspecialty care.

The training of general pediatricians, and the needs for their adequate preparation to care for patients, should be a dynamic process. As the nature and epidemiology of pediatric care change, our educational system must change as well.

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