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Acad Med. 1996 Dec;71(12):1337-43.

A break-even analysis of optimum faculty assignment for ambulatory primary care training.

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  • 1John Deere Health Care, Inc., Madison Wisconsin 53717, USA.



The increased demand that faculty teach residents in ambulatory clinics necessitates the development of ambulatory care teaching models that are both educationally effective and financially viable. This study was designed to identify the resident-to-faculty ratios needed to provide financially viable faculty supervision of residents while maintaining acceptable resident waiting times for teaching.


A computer simulation was developed to estimate the number of residents one or two faculty teachers could supervise in a university-based primary care teaching clinic. The number of residents was calculated for three waiting-time constraints and three scenarios of faculty tasks. A financial analysis of each model was performed.


With no non-teaching tasks, two teachers were able to supervise 11 residents and keep waiting times under two minutes, while one teacher was able to supervise only three residents with this waiting-time constraint. The financial break-even point was achieved by all of the two-teacher models, but by none of the one-teacher models.


In all three scenarios, using two teachers resulted in more than double the number of residents supervised and in higher utilization of faculty time (higher productivity) than did using one teacher. The two-teacher models of ambulatory supervision allowed for sufficient numbers of residents to be supervised so that teaching costs could be covered from patient care revenues; the one-teacher models did not break even financially. These simulations offer a viable option for academic institutions that are struggling to maintain teaching quality in the face of financial constraints.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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