Background: Little is known about how internal medicine residents train for and practice telephone management. To address this deficiency, a national survey of program directors at accredited internal medicine training sites was conducted to evaluate residents' training for and practice of telephone medicine.
Method: A 43-item questionnaire was mailed in December 1993 to all program directors at the 416 accredited internal medicine training sites in the United States. A limited questionnaire, regarding the most essential training questions, was mailed to all non-responders.
Results: The response rate was 60% (250) for the full questionnaire. Only 15 (6%) of the programs offered formal training in telephone management to their residents. This training usually consisted of single lectures (nine programs) or reading materials (seven programs). The respondents felt that formal training in telephone management was very important (155, 62%) and that such training should be a part of every internal medicine curriculum (150, 60%).
Conclusion: Few internal medicine programs offered training in telephone management. When training occurred, it was usually limited and informal. Most program directors felt that training was important and that current training efforts were unsatisfactory, emphasizing the need for curriculum development and implementation in telephone management.