Background: E-learning-the use of Internet technologies to enhance knowledge and performance-has become a widely accepted instructional approach. Little is known about the current use of e-learning in postgraduate medical education. To determine utilization of e-learning by United States internal medicine residency programs, program director (PD) perceptions of e-learning, and associations between e-learning use and residency program characteristics.
Methods: We conducted a national survey in collaboration with the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine of all United States internal medicine residency programs.
Results: Of the 368 PDs, 214 (58.2%) completed the e-learning survey. Use of synchronous e-learning at least sometimes, somewhat often, or very often was reported by 85 (39.7%); 153 programs (71.5%) use asynchronous e-learning at least sometimes, somewhat often, or very often. Most programs (168; 79%) do not have a budget to integrate e-learning. Mean (SD) scores for the PD perceptions of e-learning ranged from 3.01 (0.94) to 3.86 (0.72) on a 5-point scale. The odds of synchronous e-learning use were higher in programs with a budget for its implementation (odds ratio, 3.0 [95% CI, 1.04-8.7]; P = .04).
Conclusions: Residency programs could be better resourced to integrate e-learning technologies. Asynchronous e-learning was used more than synchronous, which may be to accommodate busy resident schedules and duty-hour restrictions. PD perceptions of e-learning are relatively moderate and future research should determine whether PD reluctance to adopt e-learning is based on unawareness of the evidence, perceptions that e-learning is expensive, or judgments about value versus effectiveness.
Keywords: Electronic learning; Graduate medical education; Medical education; Program directors; Residency training.