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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Those Who Can, Do and They Teach Too: Faculty Clinical Productivity and Teaching

Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objective: Academic emergency physicians (EPs) often feel that the demands of clinical productivity, income generation, and patient satisfaction conflict with educational objectives. The objective of this study was to explore whether the quality of faculty bedside teaching of residents correlated with high clinical productivity, measured by relative value units (RVUs). We also explored the strategies of high-performing faculty for optimal RVU generation and teaching performance.

Methods: We performed a mixed method study using quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the relationship between RVUs, patient satisfaction, and teaching performance. We examined the relationship between teaching performance ratings, patient satisfaction, and RVUs per hour using correlations. Following this initial analysis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with the eight faculty members who have the highest clinical (RVU) and educational productivity ratings to learn more about their strategies for success. Our Institutional Review Board approved this study.

Results: We correlated resident evaluations of faculty with RVUs billed per hour. We conducted semi-structured interviews of faculty who led in both RVU productivity and resident evaluations. From these interviews, several themes emerged. When asked about how they excel in billing, most said that they pay attention to dictating a thorough chart on every patient and try to “stay busy” throughout their entire shift. When asked how they excel at resident education, most leading faculty said that they try to find a “teaching moment” and find small “clinical pearls” to pass along. Nevertheless, all eight leading faculty members believe that as the emphasis on billing productivity increases, resident and student education will suffer.

Conclusion: Contrary to the opinion of some physicians, faculty can excel at both clinical productivity and resident education. This study found that highly efficient clinical productivity correlated with excellent resident teaching. This high level of performance did not appear to be at the expense of other important measures such as patient satisfaction or student teaching. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):254-257.]

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