The Structure of Medical Intensive Care Units at Training Institutions

Am J Med Sci. 2018 Apr;355(4):396-401. doi: 10.1016/j.amjms.2017.08.020. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Background: As a result of the 2011 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) work hour guideline implementation, the structure of intensive care unit (ICU) teams at training institutions has been affected. The impact these changes have had on the current work environment has not been well described.

Methods: The authors conducted an online survey of internal medicine program directors in 2016. The survey investigated how training institutions structure their intensive care units in reference to volume, resident housestaff and alternative coverage options, with a focus on changes made after the implementation of the 2011 ACGME duty hour restrictions.

Results: Notable differences were found in program director responses to coverage of patients in the ICUs. A total of 62 of the 132 (48%) responding program directors describe coverage of all patients solely by resident housestaff. Since 2011, 54 (41%) programs have increased the number of resident physicians rotating in the ICU per month and initiated or increased the use of nonresident coverage of patients. Use of non-resident providers is not associated with a decrease in the number of total ICU months per resident or a decrease in educational value.

Conclusions: Since the 2011 ACGME duty hour implementation, there is wide variability in the learning environment of medical intensive care units in training institutions.

Keywords: Academic medical center; Duty hour restrictions; Housestaff.

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / organization & administration*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Intensive Care Units / standards*
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workload / standards*