Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the perceptions of clinical preparedness among graduates of categorical pediatric and internal medicine residency programs versus medicine-pediatric training programs and whether these varied for recent or older graduates.
Methods: A mail survey study was conducted in the fall of 2004 of a random sample of 245 and 246 internal medicine physicians who applied for or took a general certifying examination between 1980 and 1997 (older graduates) and between 1998 and 2003 (recent graduates), respectively, and a random sample of 248 and 247 pediatricians who applied for or took a general certifying examination between 1980 and 1997 (older graduates) and between 1998 and 2003 (recent graduates). Analyses compared results from a recent, similar survey of medicine-pediatric physicians.
Results: Response rate for pediatricians was 78% and for internal medicine physicians was 64%. Categorically trained pediatricians were more likely than medicine-pediatrics-trained physicians to report that they were very well prepared to care for infants (65% vs 50%) but less likely well trained to care for adolescents (17% vs 45%). Categorically trained internal medicine residents were less likely to feel very well prepared to care for both adults and elders than their medicine-pediatrics-trained counterparts.
Conclusions: Categorically trained pediatricians and internal medicine physicians believed that they were no better prepared to care for their patients than medicine-pediatrics-trained physicians. Regardless of their beliefs of their preparedness, medicine-pediatrics physicians in practice spend a significant majority of their time in the care of adults rather than children. Our findings indicate that this is not because of their perception of a lack of training or preparation in the care of children relative to categorically trained pediatricians. Other factors, including but not limited to patient demographic changes, reimbursement for care, and the job market, potentially play a significant role.