Background and objectives: Access to abortion services in the United States is declining. While family physicians are well suited to provide this care, limited training in abortion occurs in family medicine residency programs. This study was designed to describe the structure of currently available training and the experience of residents participating in these programs.
Methods: E-mail questionnaires were sent to key faculty members and third-year residents in nine programs that have required abortion training. These faculty members and a sample of residents also completed semi-structured interviews.
Results: Residency programs varied in the amount of time dedicated to the procedural aspects of abortion training, ranging from 2 to 8 days, and also in non-procedural aspects of training such as values clarification and didactics. Themes that emerged from interviews with residents included the benefit of training with respect to technical skills and continuity of care. In addition, residents valued discussion of the emotional aspects of abortion care and issues relating to performing abortions after graduation from residency.
Conclusions: While the details of the curricula vary, residents in programs with required abortion training generally felt positively about their experiences and felt that abortion was an appropriate procedure for family physicians to provide. Residents emphasized the importance of both non-procedural and technical aspects of training.