Ratings of the performances of practicing internists by hospital-based registered nurses
PURPOSE. To examine the feasibility and reliability of ratings completed by hospital-based registered nurses of the humanistic qualities, communication skills, and selected aspects of the clinical skills of practicing internists. METHOD. In 1988–1989, registered nurses who worked in the same 175 hospitals as 232 internists with admitting privileges at these hospitals rated the internists' performances. The nurses were selected from medicine floors, specialty floors, and intensive care units and/or critical care units, using lists provided by head nurses. A total of 1,877 rating questionnaires with 13 performance categories were collected (with a mean of 8.01 nurses per internist). The ratings were analyzed to determine measurement characteristics and the relationships of the nurses' demographic characteristics to the ratings. In addition, for each of ten performance categories for 152 of the internists, the average rating each internist received from nurses was compared with the average rating each internist received from peer physicians. Statistical analysis used Pearson correlations, canonical correlations, factor analyses, Student's t-tests, analysis of variance, and stepwise multiple regression. Finally, the internists themselves, including physicians who were not actually rated by the nurses, were asked to complete a brief questionnaire that included questions about their opinions of the use of nurses' ratings. RESULTS. The nurses' ratings correlated moderately strongly with the peer physicians' ratings and had a common structure. However, the nurses' ratings were lower for several humanistic qualities, including respect, integrity, and responsibility, and their ratings were higher for medical knowledge and verbal communications. Across the 13 performance categories, approximately 10–15 ratings from nurses were needed to obtain a reliable assessment of an internist's humanistic qualities and communication skills. Many internists felt that nurses' ratings should be used equally with, or at least as a lesser contribution to, ratings by peer physicians of humanistic qualities and communication skills. CONCLUSION. Nurses' ratings appear to provide a feasible and reliable method of evaluating the internists' communication skills and humanistic qualities, when used in conjunction with ratings by peer physicians.