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Acad Med. 2003 Sep;78(9):910-7.

The Veterans Affairs Learners' Perceptions Survey: the foundation for educational quality improvement.

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Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) supports 8,700 resident positions nationally to enhance quality of care for veterans and to educate physicians. This study sought to establish a yearly quality indicator to identify and follow strengths and opportunities for improvement in VA clinical training programs.


In March 2001, the VA Learners' Perceptions Survey, a validated 57-item questionnaire, was mailed to 3,338 residents registered at 130 VA facilities. They were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the VA clinical training experience and their satisfaction in four domains: faculty/preceptor, learning, working, and physical environments using a five-point Likert scale. Questionnaires were received from 1,775 residents (53.2%). A full analysis was conducted using 1,436 of these questionnaires, whose respondents were categorized in four training programs: medicine (n = 706), surgery (n = 291), subspecialty (n = 266), and psychiatry (n = 173).


On a scale of 0 to 100, residents gave their clinical training experience an average score of 79. Eighty-four percent would have recommended VA training to peers, and 81% would have chosen VA training again. Overall, 87% were satisfied with their faculty/preceptors, 78% with the learning environment, and 67% with the working and physical environments. The survey was sensitive to differences in satisfaction among the trainee groups, with residents in internal medicine (IM) the least satisfied.


The VA Learners' Perceptions Survey is the first validated survey to address comprehensive satisfaction issues in clinical training. The survey highlights strengths and opportunities for improvement in VA clinical training and is the first step toward improving education.

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