What do internal medicine residents know about rheumatology? A needs assessment for curriculum design

Clin Rheumatol. 2020 Nov 17. doi: 10.1007/s10067-020-05506-5. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

We sought to determine if analyzing internal medicine (IM) resident performance on the in-training exam (ITE) might reveal curricular needs in rheumatology education beyond those intuitive to learners and educators from their perceptions and experience. We analyzed ITE scores of post-graduate year (PGY) 2 IM residents at our institution from 2010 to 2017. We sorted rheumatology-related educational objectives on the ITEs into 10 disease categories and calculated average scores. We then surveyed our IM residents' self-reported confidence and rheumatology educators' perceptions of IM resident proficiency in the 10 categories on a 10-point Likert scale. Finally, we tallied diagnoses in each category encountered by IM residents in rheumatology clinic. Pearson's correlation coefficients were calculated for the relationship between these data. The ITEs exposed 402 residents to 63 rheumatology-related educational objectives in the 10 categories; 24 objectives were categorized as "other." Survey respondents included 38 residents and 22 educators. There was no correlation between ITE scores in the 10 categories and resident confidence (r = - 0.226, p = 0.530), educator perception (r = - 0.274, p = 0.445), or diagnoses encountered (r = - 0.310, p = 0.383). There was a strong positive correlation between resident confidence and educator perception (r = 0.934, p < 0.001). ITE performance was low in crystalline arthritis and osteoarthritis despite high resident confidence, educator perception, and number of diagnoses seen. Our analysis of IM resident ITE performance identified curricular gaps not apparent in surveys of learner and educator perceptions or an assessment of learner experience. Key Points • In this study, we demonstrate how a systematic analysis of internal medicine resident performance on the in-training exam can identify important curricular gaps in rheumatology education that are not apparent in assessments of learners and educator perceptions or learner experience in rheumatology clinic. • In-training exam performance was low in crystalline arthritis and osteoarthritis despite high resident confidence, educator perception of proficiency, and number of diagnoses seen in these categories. • When rheumatology curricula for internal medicine residents are developed solely on the basis of learner and educator perceptions, common disorders traditionally considered "easy" may be overlooked.

Keywords: Graduate medical education; In-training examination; Needs assessment; Rheumatology education.