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Acad Med. 2005 Feb;80(2):125-8.

Teaching systems-based practice to residents by using independent study projects.

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  • 1Section of General Internal Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, P3-Med, P.O. Box 1034, Portland, OR 97207, USA.


The changing health care marketplace requires new graduates to be familiar with complex health systems. Since 1999 the Oregon Health & Science University internal medicine residency program has offered a seminar-based health systems curriculum, but residents lacked an opportunity to actively apply learned concepts. To achieve this goal, the authors developed a second curricular component, the Health Systems Independent Study Project (HSISP). The HSISP is a self-directed assessment of a health care system or delivery issue residents complete in their third year. The curriculum was implemented in 2001 with goals of gaining a focused understanding of a health systems concept and building related skills. Residents present their study projects to all curriculum participants. Topics addressed so far include adherence to coronary artery disease guidelines in a defined population, screening strategies for lung cancer, resident burnout, and many others. Residents have found that these projects enhance their systems knowledge, help them link systems-based-practice concepts to clinical practice, and foster opportunities for networking and early career development.

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