Purpose: To identify benchmarks of financial and staff support in internal medicine residency training programs and their correlation with indicators of quality.
Method: A survey instrument to determine characteristics of support of residency training programs was mailed to each member program of the Association of Program Directors of Internal Medicine. Results were correlated with the three-year running average of the pass rates on the American Board of Internal Medicine certifying examination using bivariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Of 394 surveys, 287 (73%) were completed: 74% of respondents were program directors and 20% were both chair and program director. The mean duration as program director was 7.5 years (median = 5), but it was significantly lower for women than for men (4.9 versus 8.1; p =.001). Respondents spent 62% of their time in educational and administrative duties, 30% in clinical activities, 5% in research, and 2% in other activities. Most chief residents were PGY4s, with 72% receiving compensation additional to base salary. On average, there was one associate program director for every 33 residents, one chief resident for every 27 residents, and one staff person for every 21 residents. Most programs provided trainees with incremental educational stipends, meals while oncall, travel and meeting expenses, and parking. Support from pharmaceutical companies was used for meals, books, and meeting expenses. Almost all programs provided meals for applicants, with 15% providing travel allowances and 37% providing lodging. The programs' board pass rates significantly correlated with the numbers of faculty fulltime equivalents (FTEs), the numbers of resident FTEs per office staff FTEs, and the numbers of categorical and preliminary applications received and ranked by the programs in 1998 and 1999. Regression analyses demonstrated three independent predictors of the programs' board pass rates: number of faculty (a positive predictor), percentage of clinical work performed by the program director (a negative predictor), and financial support from pharmaceutical companies (also a negative predictor).
Conclusions: These results identify benchmarks of financial and staff support provided to internal medicine residency programs. Some of these benchmarks are correlated with board pass rate, an accepted indicator of quality in residency training. Program directors and chairs can use this information to identify areas that may benefit from enhanced financial and administrative support.