Effectiveness of medical resident education in mechanical ventilation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2003 Jan 1;167(1):32-8. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200206-624OC. Epub 2002 Sep 25.


Specific methods of mechanical ventilation management reduce mortality and lower health care costs. However, in the face of a predicted deficit of intensivists, it is unclear whether residency programs are training internists to provide effective care for patients who require mechanical ventilation. To evaluate these educational outcomes, we administered a validated 19-item case-based test and survey to resident physicians at 31 diverse U.S. internal medicine residency programs nationwide. Of 347 senior residents, 259 (75%) responded. The mean test score was 74% correct (SD, 14%; range, 37 to 100%). Important items representing evidence-based standards of critical care answered incorrectly were as follows: use of appropriate tidal volume in the acute respiratory distress syndrome (48% incorrect), identifying a patient ready for a weaning trial (38% incorrect), and recognizing indication for noninvasive ventilation (27% incorrect). Most accurately identified pneumothorax (86% correct) and increased intrathoracic positive end-expiratory pressure (93% correct). Better scores were associated with "closed" versus "open" intensive care unit organization (76 versus 71% correct, p = 0.001), resident perception of greater versus lesser ventilator knowledge (79 versus 71% correct, p = 0.001), and graduation from a U.S. versus international medical school (75 versus 69% correct, p = 0.033). Although overall training satisfaction correlated strongly with program use of learning objectives (r = 0.89, p < 0.0001), only 46% reported being satisfied with their mechanical ventilation training. We conclude that senior residents may not be gaining essential evidence-based knowledge needed to provide effective care for patients who require mechanical ventilation. Residency programs should emphasize evidence-based learning objectives to guide mechanical ventilation instruction.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Educational Measurement
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States