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Open Access Research article

Determining specific competencies for General Internal Medicine residents (PGY 4 and PGY 5). What are they and are programs currently teaching them? A survey of practicing Canadian General Internists

Sharon E Card1*, Anne M PausJenssen1 and Rachel C Ottenbreit2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 103 Hospital Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N OW8, Canada

2 Medical Student, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0W8, Canada

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:480  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-480

Published: 3 November 2011

Abstract

Background

General Internal Medicine (GIM) has recently been approved as a subspecialty by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. As such, there is a need to define areas of knowledge that a General Internist must learn in those two years of training. There is limited literature as to what competencies are needed in a GIM practice. Draft competencies for GIM (4th and 5th year residents in internal medicine) training were developed over eight years with input from many stakeholders. Practicing General Internists were surveyed and asked their perspective as to the level of importance of each of these competencies for GIM training. They were also asked if training gaps exist in current training programs. The survey was offered widely online in both English and French to gain perspectives from as many different contexts as possible.

Results

157 General Internists, in practice on average for 15 years, responded from all of Canada's provinces and territories. Practice profiles were diverse (large urban centers to rural centers). The majority of the competencies surveyed were perceived as important to attain at least proficiency in. Perioperative care, risk reduction, and the management of common, emergent, and complex internal medicine problems were identified as key areas to focus training programs on, with respondents perceiving these should be mastered to an expert level. Training gaps were identified, most frequently in that of the manager role (example managing practice).

Conclusions

This is the first study we are aware of to attempt to isolate the opinions of practicing Canadian General Internists as to the major competencies that should be mastered as a General Internist. We suggest that "generalism" in the context of GIM, does not mean a bit of knowledge about everything but that defined objectives for training in this 'newest' of Royal College subspecialties can be identified. This includes mastery of core areas such as perioperative care, risk reduction, and management of common, emergent and multiple internal medicine problems. The training gaps identified need to be addressed to ensure that General Internists continue to provide excellence in health care delivery.