Field note use in family medicine residency training: learning needs revealed or avoided?

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Zaki, Nicole
Cavett, Teresa
Halas, Gayle
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Abstract Background Field notes (FNs) are used in Family Medicine residency programs to foster reflective learning and facilitate formative assessment. Residents assess their strengths and weaknesses and develop action plans for further improvement. This study explored the use of FNs in the University of Manitoba’s Family Medicine residency program 5 years after their implementation. Methods This multi-method study examined 520 FNs from 16 recent graduates from the University of Manitoba Family Medicine residency program. Quantitative analysis (frequencies and means) enabled descriptions and comparisons between training sites. Four themes emerged from inductive content analysis highlighting common ideas reflected upon. Results Residents displayed cyclical variation in the FN generation over 2 years. Eight of the 99 Priority Topics (addressing complex psychosocial issues) were not captured in this data set. The domains of Care of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis; Care of the Vulnerable and Underserved; and Behavioural Medicine and the CanMEDS-FM roles of FM – Procedural Skill, Leader/Manager, and Professional were less frequently reflected upon. Four themes (Patient-Centered Care, Patient Safety, Achieving Balance, and Confidence) were identified from qualitative analysis of residents’ narrative notes. Conclusions Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development was proposed as a lens through which to examine factors influencing resident learning. Residents’ discomfort with certain topics may lead to avoidance in reflecting upon certain competencies in FNs, impacting skill acquisition. Further research should explore factors influencing residents’ perceptions FNs and how to best assist residents in becoming competent, confident practitioners.
BMC Medical Education. 2021 Aug 27;21(1):451