Objectives: Closer supervision of residents’ clinical activities has been promoted to improve patient safety, but may additionally affect resident participation in patient care and learning. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of closer supervision on patient care, resident participation, and the development of resident ability to care independently for critically ill patients during simulated scenarios.
Design: This quantitative study represents a component of a larger mixed-methods study. Residents were randomized to one of three levels of supervision, defined by the physical proximity of the supervisor (distant, immediately available, and direct). Each resident completed a simulation scenario under the supervision of a critical care fellow, immediately followed by a modified scenario of similar content without supervision.
Setting: The simulation center of a tertiary, university-affiliated academic center in a large urban city.
Subjects: Fifty-three residents completing a critical care rotation and 24 critical care fellows were recruited between April 2009 and June 2010.
Measurements and Main Results: During the supervised scenarios, lower team performance checklist scores were obtained for distant supervision compared with immediately available and direct supervision (mean [SD], direct: 72% [12%] vs immediately available: 77% [10%] vs distant: 61% [11%]; p = 0.0013). The percentage of checklist items completed by the residents themselves was significantly lower during direct supervision (median [interquartile range], direct: 40% [21%] vs immediately available: 58% [16%] vs distant: 55% [11%]; p = 0.005). During unsupervised scenarios, no significant differences were found on the outcome measures.
Conclusions: Care delivered in the presence of senior supervising physicians was more comprehensive than care delivered without access to a bedside supervisor, but was associated with lower resident participation. However, subsequent resident performance during unsupervised scenarios was not adversely affected. Direct supervision of residents leads to improved care process and does not diminish the subsequent ability of residents to function independently.