A single center pilot study: assessing resident needs and faculty perceptions to improve training in rheumatology

BMC Med Educ. 2023 May 19;23(1):351. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04336-8.


Background: Internal medicine (IM) residents lack confidence in rheumatology. Due to the wide variety of topics in rheumatology, identifying the most important subjects to learn during training is vital to create future interventions to increase confidence and knowledge. The preferred teaching modality for both attendings/fellows and residents is not known.

Methods: An electronic survey was distributed to all IM residents, rheumatology fellows, and rheumatology faculty at the University of Chicago during the 2020-2021 academic year. Residents reported self-confidence levels on 10 rheumatology topics, while rheumatology attendings/fellows were asked to rank these from most to least important to learn during IM residency. All groups were asked preferred teaching modality.

Results: Median confidence level [interquartile range] among residents for caring for patients with rheumatological conditions was 6 [3.6-7.5] for inpatient and 5 [3.7-6.5] for outpatient settings (10 being very confident). Attendings and fellows identified the most important topics to learn during the rheumatology rotation as ordering and interpreting autoimmune serologies and musculoskeletal exam. Both attendings/fellows and residents preferred bedside teaching in the inpatient setting and case-based learning in the outpatient setting.

Conclusions: While some disease-specific topics such as autoimmune serologies were identified as important rheumatology topics for IM residents to learn, more practical topics like musculoskeletal exam skills were also deemed important. This highlights the need for comprehensive interventions that focus on more than standardized exam topics alone to improve rheumatology confidence in IM residents. There are different preferences of teaching styles in various clinical settings.

Keywords: General rheumatology; Medical education; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Faculty
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rheumatology* / education