Background: Although the clinical (operating room) production of individual anesthesiologists has been measured in multiple related ways (e.g., hours of direct clinical care), the same is not true for the quality of that effort. In our study, we consider the quality of clinical supervision provided by anesthesiologists who are supervising anesthesia residents and nurse anesthetists. The quality of the daily supervision can be measured reliably and validly using the scale developed by de Oliveira Filho et al. If clinical production and supervisory quality were not positively correlated, then it would be important for departments to measure the quality of clinical supervision because, essentially, the clinical value provided by an anesthesiologist would be correlated with, but not necessarily proportional to, their clinical hours.
Methods: Our department sends daily e-mail requests to anesthesia residents and nurse anesthetists to evaluate the supervision provided by each anesthesiologist with whom they worked the previous day in an operating room setting. We compared anesthesiologists' clinical activity (total operating room hours) and supervision scores obtained during the first (July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013) and last (July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014) of 3 consecutive 6-month periods. During the first 6 months, anesthesiologists received no feedback regarding the supervision scores. During the last 6 months, there was feedback to all anesthesiologists regarding their individual supervision scores and comments provided by residents (during the preceding 6 months) and nurse anesthetists (during the preceding 12 months).
Results: Anesthesiologists' mean supervision scores were not positively correlated with their total (weekly) hours of clinical activity. For the first 6 months, the correlations were r = -0.18 among scores provided by residents (P = 0.92 for positive correlation, N = 57 anesthesiologists) and r = -0.04 among scores provided by nurse anesthetists (P = 0.70, N = 61). For the last 6 months, the correlations were r = -0.28 (P = 0.98) and r = -0.10 (P = 0.79), respectively. Pairwise by anesthesiologist, the mean supervision scores provided by residents increased by 0.08 ± 0.01 points (P < 0.0001, N = 44). The mean supervision scores provided by nurse anesthetists increased by 0.28 ± 0.02 points (P < 0.0001, N = 49).
Conclusions: When anesthesiologists supervise anesthesia residents and nurse anesthetists, the amount of clinical work performed and the quality of the supervision provided do not necessarily follow one another. Thus, faculty supervision scores serve as an independent measure of the contribution of an individual anesthesiologist to the care of the patient. Furthermore, when supervision quality is monitored and feedback is provided to anesthesiologists, quality can increase. The results suggest that anesthesiology department managers should not only be monitoring (and perhaps reporting) the quality of their departments' level of supervision, but also establishing processes so that individual anesthesiologists can learn about the quality of supervision they provide.