Emergency medicine residents may be transitioning to practice with minimal training on how to supervise and assess trainees. Our study sought to examine: 1) physician comfort with supervision and assessment, 2) what the current training gaps are within these competencies, and 3) what barriers or enablers might exist in implementing curricular improvements.
Qualitative data were collected in two phases through individual interviews from September 2016 to November 2017, at the University of Toronto and McMaster University after receiving ethics approval from both sites. Eligible participants were final year emergency medicine residents, residents pursuing an enhanced skills program in emergency medicine, and attendings within their first 3 years of practice. A semi-structured interview guide was developed and refined after phase one, to reflect content identified in the first set of interviews. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded, and collapsed into themes. Data analysis was guided by constructivist grounded theory.
A thematic analysis revealed five themes: 1) Supervision and assessment skills were acquired passively through modelling, 2) the training available in these areas is variably used, creating a diversity of comfort levels, 3) competing priorities in the emergency department represent significant barriers to improving supervision and assessment; 4) providing negative feedback is difficult and often avoided; and 5) competence by design will act as an impetus for formal curriculum development in these areas.
As programs transition to competence by design, there will be a need for formal training in supervision and assessment, with a focus on negative feedback, to achieve a standardized level of competence among emergency physicians.