Purpose: To measure pediatric program directors’ (PDs’) and trainees’ perceptions of and expectations for the balance of service and education in their training programs.
Method: In fall 2011, an electronic survey was sent to PDs and trainees at Boston Children’s Hospital. Respondents described perceptions and expectations for service and education and rated the education and service inherent to 12 vignettes. Wilcoxon rank sum tests measured the agreement between PD and trainee perceptions and ratings of service and education assigned to each vignette.
Results: Responses were received from 28/39 PDs (78%) and 223/430 trainees (52%). Seventy-five (34%) trainees responded that their education had been compromised by excessive service obligations; only 1 (4%) PD agreed (P < .0001). Although 132 (59%) trainees reported that service obligations usually/sometimes predominated over clinical education, only 3 (11%) PDs agreed (P < .0001). One hundred trainees (45%) thought rotations never/rarely/sometimes provided a balance between education and clinical demands compared with 2 PDs (7%) (P < .0001). Both groups agreed that service can, without formal teaching, be considered educational. Trainees scored 6 vignettes as having greater educational value (P ≤ .01) and 10 as having lower service content (P ≤ .04) than PDs did.
Conclusions: Trainees and medical educators hold mismatched impressions of their training programs’ balance of service and education. Trainees are more likely to report an overabundance of service. These data may impact the interpretation of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education survey results and should be incorporated into dialogue about future curricular design initiatives.