▪ The procedural skills of internists have been scrutinized recently because of concern for quality of care and because of economic and liability issues. The findings of recent surveys of program directors and practicing internists about procedural skills are reviewed. The results of these surveys in relation to the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) new training requirements and New York State's new policy requiring credentialing of residents in training are also discussed.
Surveys show that internists do a large number and variety of procedures, that the number of procedures varies with the nature and location of practice, and that internists who more recently completed training do more procedures. Many graduates do not master the procedures their program directors think they should, and many learn procedures, often without supervision, after they have entered practice. The ABIM has recently ruled that residents must have documented experience and competence in specific core procedures to become eligible for certification. Also, New York State, in the wake of the Libby Zion case, now requires that all residents be credentialed in the procedures they do during training.
Programs in internal medicine need to decide which procedures their residents will master and assure that their residents receive the training and testing necessary for competency and for formal certification of mastery in each procedure. Programs may restructure rotations to assure adequate experience. In the new era of accountability, certification of training and of competence in procedural skills will be an important function of training programs.