Learner deficits and academic outcomes of medical students, residents, fellows, and attending physicians referred to a remediation program, 2006-2012

Acad Med. 2014 Feb;89(2):352-8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000122.


Purpose: To identify deficit types and predictors of poor academic outcomes among students, residents, fellows, and physicians referred to the University of Colorado School of Medicine's remediation program.

Method: During 2006-2012, 151 learners were referred. After a standardized assessment process, program faculty developed individualized learning plans that incorporated deliberate practice, feedback, and reflection, followed by independent reassessment. The authors collected data on training levels, identified deficits, remediation plan details, outcomes, and faculty time invested. They examined relationships between gender, training level, and specific deficits. They analyzed faculty time by deficit and explored predictors of negative outcomes.

Results: Most learners had more than one deficit; medical knowledge, clinical reasoning, and professionalism were most common. Medical students were more likely than others to have mental well-being issues (P = .03), whereas the prevalence of professionalism deficits increased steadily as training level increased. Men struggled more than women with communication (P = .01) and mental well-being. Poor professionalism was the only predictor of probationary status (P < .001), and probation was a predictor of other negative outcomes (P < .0001). Remediation of clinical reasoning and mental well-being deficits required significantly more faculty time (P < .001 and P = .03, respectively). Per hour, faculty face time reduced the odds of probation by 3.1% (95% CI, 0.09-0.63) and all negative outcomes by 2.6% (95% CI, 0.96-0.99).

Conclusions: Remediation required substantial resources but was successful for 90% of learners. Future studies should compare remediation strategies and assess how to optimize faculty time.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods
  • Male
  • Professional Competence*
  • Remedial Teaching / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Medical