What the “Nonteaching” Service Can Teach Us

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“Teaching” services usually incorporate a cadre of learners such as resident physicians and medical students as part of the care team, led by a faculty physician. “Nonteaching” services, in contrast, are usually defined by the absence of resident physicians on the care team. The care for patients on a nonteaching service is frequently managed directly by a faculty or nonfaculty physician. Nonteaching services have grown in number and size at academic medical centers (AMCs) in response to regulatory requirements, operational demands, and efforts to improve clinical education. The allocation of patients to teaching and nonteaching services is frequently based on perceived teaching value of hospitalized patients, which can potentially lead to a number of unintended consequences for medical education, professional satisfaction, and patient care. Through a series of four lessons, the authors describe how the structure of nonteaching services can result in curricular gaps, devalue attending physicians, and undermine the educational and clinical missions of AMCs. Anticipating the continued expansion and evolution of nonteaching services, the authors propose seven design principles for nonteaching services to ensure robust education for students and resident physicians, advance quality of care, and enhance attending physician and patient experience.

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