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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Behind the Curtain: The Nurses’ Voice in Assessment of Residents in the Emergency Department


Introduction: Feedback provides valuable input for improving physician performance. Conventionally, feedback is obtained from attending physicians; however, residents work in close contact with other members of the care team, especially nurses. Nurses may have more opportunity to directly observe trainees. In addition, they may value different behaviors and provide unique feedback. The objective of this study was to examine the nurse’s perspective of resident performance in the emergency department.

Methods: This was a retrospective, mixed-methods study of nursing assessments of residents using a  five-point scale from 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (outstanding) and providing comments. Analysis included descriptive statistics of the quantitative assessments and content analysis of the nursing comments by a group of attendings, residents, and nurses.

Results: Nurses assessed residents as above expectation or outstanding, especially for the categories of “How would you rate this resident’s attitude?” (65%) and “Is this resident a team player?” (64%). Content analysis of the comments yielded nine themes including being kind, communication with nurses, being a team player, work ethic and efficiency, and respect for other team members. Of the comments made, 50% provided positive feedback, and the majority of comments (80%) were determined to be actionable.

Conclusion: Our data indicate that nurses provide feedback on residents’ kindness, efficiency and communication. These two aspects of interacting in the healthcare setting may not be highlighted in conventional, attending provider feedback, yet they are clearly noted by the nurse’s voice.

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