Purpose: To study medical grand rounds, the cornerstone of a department of medicine's educational programs.
Method: Between April and June 2001, a questionnaire was sent to chairs of departments of medicine at the 389 U.S. hospitals with medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Data were collected on the objectives and attendance, educational structure, perceived quality, and costs of medical grand rounds.
Results: Three hundred questionnaires were returned (77%). Grand rounds were offered by 97% of departments and accredited for continuing medical education in 96% of hospitals. The most important objectives were to educate, showcase faculty role models, and promote a collegial atmosphere. Patients were present at grand rounds less than 3% of the time. Grand rounds were predominantly lecture based; only 10% were clinical case presentations or interactive workshops/small groups, the formats proven most effective for facilitating adult learning and a humanistic approach to patients. Curricular tenets of needs assessment, program evaluation, and knowledge assessment were performed in only 73%, 59%, and 17% of programs, respectively. University hospitals were less likely to incorporate these principles (p <.01). Although respondents attested to the high quality of grand rounds, many potential attendees missed more than half the sessions. Grand rounds were the most expensive conference in 78% of departments, with the pharmaceutical industry providing the majority of the funding.
Conclusions: Medical grand rounds are costly and often do not take into account learners' needs. Departments of medicine should reevaluate their commitment to grand rounds.