What's the Purpose of Rounds? A Qualitative Study Examining the Perceptions of Faculty and Students

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Rounds are a critical activity on any inpatient service, but there is little literature describing the purpose of rounds from the perspective of faculty and trainees in teaching hospitals.


To evaluate and compare the perceptions of pediatric and internal medicine attendings and medical students regarding the purpose of inpatient attending rounds.


The authors conducted 10 semistructured focus groups with attendings and medical students in the spring of 2014 at 4 teaching hospitals. The protocol was approved by the institutional review boards at all institutions. The authors employed a grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis, and data were analyzed by using the constant-comparative method. Two transcripts were read and coded independently by 2 authors to generate themes.


Forty-eight attendings and 31 medical students participated in the focus groups. We categorized 218 comments into 4 themes comprised of 16 codes representing what attendings and medical students believed to be the purpose of rounds. These themes included communication, medical education, patient care, and assessment.


Our results highlight that rounds serve 4 purposes, including communication, medical education, patient care, and assessment. Importantly, both attendings and students agree on what they perceive to be the many purposes of rounds. Despite this, a disconnect appears to exist between what people believe are the purposes of rounds and what is happening during rounds.

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