Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 716–722

Procedural experience and comfort level in internal medicine trainees

  • Christopher M. Hicks
  • Ralph Gonzales
  • Michael T. Morton
  • Robert V. Gibbons
  • Robert S. Wigton
  • Robert J. Anderson
Original Articles


BACKGROUND: The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) has recommended a specific number of procedures be done as a minimum standard for ensuring competence in various medical procedures. These minimum standards were determined by consensus of an expert panel and may not reflect actual procedural comfort or competence.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the minimum number of selected procedures at which a majority of internal medicine trainees become comfortable performing that procedure.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, self-administered survey.

SETTING: A military-based, a community-based, and 2 university-based programs.

PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred thirty-two internal medicine residents.

MEASUREMENTS: Survey questions included number of specific procedures performed, comfort level with performing specific procedures, and whether respondents desired further training in specific procedures. The comfort threshold for a given procedure was defined as the number of procedures at which two thirds or more of the respondents reported being comfortable or very comfortable performing that procedure.

RESULTS: For three of seven procedures selected, residents were comfortable performing the procedure at or below the number recommended by the ABIM as a minimum requirement. However, residents needed more procedures than recommended by the ABIM to feel comfortable with central venous line placement, knee joint aspiration, lumbar puncture, and thoracentesis. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, variables independently associated with greater comfort performing selected procedures included increased number performed, more years of training, male gender, career goals, and for skin biopsy, training in the community-based program. Except for skin biopsy, comfort level was independent of training site. A significant number of advanced-year house officers in some programs had little experience in performing selected common ambulatory procedures.

CONCLUSION: Minimum standards for certifying internal medicine residents may need to be reexamined in light of house officer comfort level performing selected procedures.

Key Words

ABIM procedure comfort level residents 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher M. Hicks
    • 1
  • Ralph Gonzales
    • 1
  • Michael T. Morton
    • 2
  • Robert V. Gibbons
    • 3
  • Robert S. Wigton
    • 4
  • Robert J. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.the Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences CenterDenver
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineExempla St. Joseph’s HospitalDenver
  3. 3.Department of MedicineMadigan Army Medical CenterTacoma
  4. 4.Section of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmaha
  5. 5.Meiklejohn Professor of MedicineUCHSCDenver

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