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Med Educ. 2005 Jul;39(7):696-703.

How medical residents perceive the quality of supervision provided by attending doctors in the clinical setting.

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Department of Paediatrics, St Lucas Andreas Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The supervision of medical residents is a key responsibility of attending doctors in the clinical setting. Most attending doctors, however, are unfamiliar with the principles of effective supervision. Although inconsistent, supervision has been shown to be both important and effective for the professional development of medical residents.


To examine how medical residents perceive the supervisory roles of attending doctors, in terms of what they perceive as poor supervision and what they characterise as good supervisory practice.


We carried out a questionnaire survey of 38 medical residents at the Department of Paediatrics at the teaching hospital of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Attending doctors directly involved with the supervision of medical residents participated in the study. The clinical settings where supervision occurred included the neonatal and paediatric intensive care units and the general paediatric wards.


Medical residents rated the quality of supervision they received in all departments positively. A majority of the attending doctors were rated highly in 'overall supervision'. Creating pleasant learning environments and being stimulated to learn and function independently were aspects of supervision characterised positively. Coaching in clinical skills and procedures, effective communication skills and clinical decision making using principles of cost-appropriate care were aspects of supervision found to be deficient.


This study shows that medical residents enjoy supervision from collaborative, understanding and patient attending doctors. Medical residents prefer to be treated as adult learners and enjoy feedback that is constructive, measured and adapted to their professional needs.

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