Resident competencies before and after short intensive care unit rotations: a multicentre pilot observational study

Can J Anaesth. 2020 Nov 10. doi: 10.1007/s12630-020-01850-x. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Residency programs need to understand the competencies developed by residents during an intensive care unit (ICU) rotation, so that curricula and assessments maximize residents' learning. The primary study objective was to evaluate the feasibility for training programs and acceptability by residents of conducting a multi-competency assessment during a four-week ICU rotation.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, multicentre observational pilot study in three ICUs. During weeks 1 and 4 of an ICU rotation, we conducted repeated standardized assessments of non-critical care specialty residents' competencies in cognitive reasoning (script concordance test [SCT]), procedural skills (objective structured assessment of technical skills [OSATS]-global rating scale], and communication skills through a written test, two procedural simulations, and a simulated encounter with a "family member". The feasibility outcomes included program costs, the proportion of enrolled residents able to complete at least one three-station assessment during their four-week ICU rotation, and acceptability of the assessment for the trainees.

Results: We enrolled 63 (69%) of 91 eligible residents, with 58 (92%) completing at least one assessment. The total cost to conduct 90 assessments was CAD 33,800. The majority of participants agreed that the assessment was fair and that it measured important clinical abilities. For the 32 residents who completed two assessments, the mean (standard deviation) cognitive reasoning and procedural skill scores increased between weeks 1 and 4 [SCT difference, 3.1 (6.5), P = 0.01; OSATS difference for bag-mask ventilation and central line insertion, 0.4 (0.5) and 0.6 (0.8), respectively; both P ≤ 0.001]. Nevertheless, the communication scores did not change significantly.

Conclusions: A monthly multi-competency assessment for specialty residents rotating in the ICU is likely feasible for most programs with appropriate resources, and generally acceptable for residents. Specialty residents' cognitive reasoning and procedural skills may improve during a four-week ICU rotation, whereas communication skills may not.

Keywords: assessment; critical care; internship and residency; medical education; simulation.