As July approaches, more than 80 new residents are getting ready to start their training. Before they begin working with patients, interns from internal medicine, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, neurology, and – for the first time – general surgery went through a demanding “bootcamp” program from June 20 to 22.
During the three-day program, residents go through a series of seminars and tests in areas such as communication with patients, procedures, and medical emergencies using simulation and small group learning.
“The sessions are both a fun way to meet people before we start working together and a source of standardized information from day one,” said Maria Badaracco, MD, a first-year internal medicine intern. “I am really starting to feel like a doctor.”
Beyond adding general surgery residents this year, the program has expanded to include two new skills workshops: chest x-ray and EKG interpretation. Diane Wayne, MD’91, vice-chair of education in the Department of Medicine, said the additions were made based on feedback from prior bootcamp attendees and supervising faculty.
“General surgery was added to continue to move this program from a Department of Medicine initiative to a campus-wide initiative,” said Wayne, also the Dr. John Sherman Appleman Professor of Medical Education. “In addition to learning specific skills, we believe we are fostering interdepartmental collaboration and communication that will hopefully benefit patients.”
Steven Schuetz, MD, a first-year general surgery resident, said he found the suture sessions and mock patient scenarios a good refresher.
“This is information we learned in medical school that we haven’t thought about in a while, so the opportunity to look at ‘patients’ as physicians instead of as students was incredibly helpful,” he said.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital collaborated to create the bootcamp in 2011 to address an issue most teaching hospitals face: the “July effect.” This phenomenon occurs every year, when experienced trainees leave at the same time that a group of new trainees enters. The turnover of residents has been known to have an effect on patient outcomes.
Next year, Wayne said she is open to adding new departments and more communication skills to the program.
“Intern bootcamp is an interdisciplinary effort,” she said. “There is so much technical skill and knowledge needed to be a physician. Overall, the hardest thing to teach is communication skills, yet these are some of the most beneficial.”