Ward rounds: can an aide-memoire help new doctors?

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Abstract

Background

Ward rounds are fundamental to the care of medical inpatients, and newly graduated doctors may be expected to conduct them alone. There are no studies exploring the frequency with which this occurs, however, or how prepared they feel for this task.

Methods

Newly graduated (Foundation Year-1, FY1) doctors in Northern Lincolnshire and Goole (NLaG) National Health Service Foundation Trust were surveyed at the end of their FY1 year. An online survey asked: how often they conducted medical ward rounds alone; how prepared they felt to do so; and how often they considered 13 important aspects of care. An aide-memoire outlining aspects to consider on ward rounds was introduced during induction for a second cohort of FY1s, and the survey was repeated.

Findings

In the initial survey (2015), 42% (n = 19) of the 45 FY1s in NLaG responded: 84% (n = 16) reported conducting ward rounds alone twice or more each week, with 5% (n = 1) feeling prepared and 89% (n = 17) feeling unprepared to do so. In the second survey (2016), following the introduction of the aide-memoire, 52% (n = 25) of the 48 FY1s responded: 32% (n = 7) reported feeling prepared with the aide-memoire (a 27% increase from 2015). There was also a statistically significant increase in the frequency with which they reported considering three of 13 important aspects of care: nutrition, mobility and discharge planning.

Findings

There are no studies exploring the frequency with which newly graduated doctors conduct ward rounds alone

Discussion

The FY1s were regularly conducting ward rounds alone, and felt unprepared for this. An aide-memoire is a low-cost intervention with some value in improving preparedness, and could be further developed and used elsewhere.

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