To determine the effect of a pediatric hospitalist system on housestaff education and experience.
Free-standing academic children's hospital. Hospitalists were introduced in June 24, 1998, to supervise teaching and care on the general pediatric wards.
On 2 surveys, housestaff rated their skills, knowledge, and experiences on the wards (experiences survey), and the quality of teaching and supervision by attending physicians (attending survey). Responses before and after the introduction of the hospitalist system were compared using Wilcoxon nonparametric tests.
Seventy-six (70%) of the 109 interns and 54 (62%) of the 87 senior residents responded to the experiences survey. Following introduction of the hospitalist system, the interns' mean overall rating of the general pediatrics wards rose from 4.1 to 4.7 on a 5-point Likert scale (P = .01). Their ratings of comparison rotations did not change significantly. Interns' satisfaction with the educational experience (3.2 to 3.5 of a 4-point Likert scale, P<.05), supervision, and quality of life on the pediatrics wards also improved significantly, as did their self-assessments of skills and knowledge related to general pediatrics training. Senior residents' ratings were generally unchanged. Three hundred seventy-one (63%) of the 593 attending physicians' surveys were completed. Compared with nonhospitalist attendings, hospitalists were rated more effective role models (4.7 vs 4.5 points, P<.05) and teachers (4.7 vs 4.4 points, P<.01). They were rated more knowledgeable (4.8 vs 4.5 of 5, P<.001) and accessible (4.7 vs 4.5 points, P<.05), involved housestaff more in the learning process (4.7 vs 4.4 points, P<.05), and gave better feedback (4.5 vs 4.2 points, P<.01). Hospitalists' bedside teaching, however, was rated lower (3.7 vs 4.2 points, P<.001).
Overall, hospitalists were rated significantly higher as educators than were traditional attending physicians. Introduction of a hospitalist system was associated with improved intern experience and quality of life on general pediatrics wards, and with improved self-reported skills and knowledge in general pediatrics.