Length of family medicine training and readiness for independent practice: Residents’ perspectives at one Canadian university
Objectives: There is ongoing debate in North America around the appropriate length of training for family physicians. This pilot study presents the results of a qualitative exploration of the viewpoints of family medicine residents at one Canadian university who were asked to reflect on their level of readiness for practice following the standard two years of training.
Methods: Twenty-three family medicine residents completed an online qualitative survey that asked them to rank their self-perceived level of preparedness around the key CanMEDS-FM roles and competencies. Six residents participated in a follow-up focus group interview. A qualitative analysis of written responses to the survey and focus group data provided an insight into the residents’ viewpoints.
Results: There was a sense that two years is not enough to adequately prepare for independent practice. Residents reported feeling well prepared around competencies related to communication skills and addressing psychosocial issues, however, they indicated that they would feel better prepared in their role as generalists if they had greater exposure to a broader spectrum of clinical domains and issues around practice management.
Conclusions: Lengthening training in family medicine continues to receive mixed reviews. Canadian family medicine residents appear to have to master a wider breadth of knowledge within a shorter training period compared to their peers in other specialties. The new competency-based curriculum (Triple C) in family medicine may influence the residents’ sense of readiness for practice.