Background and objectives: Family practice residents and students receive substantial teaching from senior residents. Yet, we lack data about residents' needs for teaching skills development, particularly in generalist training. This multicenter, interdisciplinary study describes the learning needs of generalist residents for becoming more effective teachers.
Methods: One hundred medical students, residents, and faculty infamily medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics participated in 11 focus groups and 4 semi-structured key informant interviews at the University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000-2001.
Results: Participants agreed that resident teachers fulfill critical roles in medical education, providing powerful, skills-based teaching that can tangibly benefit both residents themselves and their junior learners. House staff often facilitate students' best learning experiences despite inherent risks in serving as teachers and professional role models. Residents need teaching skills training that prepares them to lead clinical teams and teach students essential skills that include history taking and physical examination, critical reasoning, charting, and procedures.
Conclusions: Generalist residents fulfill important roles as practical clinical teachers and role models for junior learners. Future research should address how resident teachers affect learners' clinical skills, academic performance, and professionalism.