Military Resident Physician Training Burden: Quantifying Requirements Across the Military Health Care System

Mil Med. 2022 Jul 26;usac221. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usac221. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: The Military Health Care System trains approximately 1,500 resident physicians in over 100 specialties. In addition to requirements for their specific program, active duty military trainees must complete military-specific trainings that vary by the branch of service. Excessive training requirements could contribute to physician burnout and/or negatively affect patient care. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify the time active duty resident physicians dedicate to this training, stratified by the branch of service.

Materials and methods: The study protocol was submitted to the Clinical Investigations Department at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (Portsmouth, VA, USA) and deemed exempt from the Institutional Review Board review. We conducted a descriptive study in 2021 wherein lists of all training requirements were obtained from a military treatment facility in the Army, Navy, and Air Force supporting residency training. Individual requirements were reviewed and sorted into military-specific and general categories. Information was gathered on duration, frequency, and platform for applicable requirements.

Results: Residents are required to complete a mean of 17.2 hours of training annually, of which 11.2 hours were military-specific. This consisted of 50, 57, and 53 individual requirements for Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel, respectively. Army resident physicians had the greatest time burden of military-specific training at 14.8 hours/year, followed by the Air Force and Navy (10.2 and 8.7 hours/year, respectively).

Conclusions: Annually, active duty resident physicians spend the equivalent of more than two work days completing additional training requirements on multiple platforms. Standardizing training requirements and platforms across the Military Health Care System and aligning required trainings with job responsibilities could free up additional time for patient care, potentially decreasing fatigue and burnout.