The 4∶1 schedule: a novel template for internal medicine residencies

J Grad Med Educ. 2010 Dec;2(4):541-7. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00044.1.


Background: It is widely acknowledged that there is need for redesign of internal medicine training. Duty hour restrictions, an increasing focus on patient safety, the possibility of inadequate training in ambulatory care, and a growing shortage of primary care physicians are some factors that fuel this redesign movement.

Intervention: We implemented a 4∶1 scheduling template that alternates traditional 4-week rotations with week-long ambulatory blocks. Annually, this provides 10 blocks of traditional rotations without continuity clinic sessions and 10 weeks of ambulatory experience without inpatient responsibilities. To ensure continuous resident presence in all areas, residents are divided into 5 groups, each staggered by 1 week.

Evaluation: We surveyed residents and faculty before and after the intervention, with questions focused on attitudes toward ambulatory medicine and training. We also conducted focus groups with independent groups of residents and faculty, designed to assess the benefits and drawbacks of the new scheduling template and to identify areas for future improvement.

Results: Overall, the scheduling template minimized the conflicts between inpatient and outpatient training, promoted a stronger emphasis on ambulatory education, allowed for focused practice during traditional rotations, and enhanced perceptions of team development. By creating an immersion experience in ambulatory training, the template allowed up to 180 continuity clinic sessions during 3 years of training and provided improved educational continuity and continuity of patient care.

Conclusion: Separating inpatient and ambulatory education allows for enhanced modeling of the evolving practice of internists and removes some of the conflict inherent in the present system.