Objective: Because continuity of care (CC) is a necessary component of resident education, this analysis was done to understand what keeps CC between residents and patients low and how it can be most effectively improved. Background: Many authors lament low CC between residents and patients, especially in the era of duty hour regulations. Some have tried lengthening rotations, some have tried increasing clinic attendance, and some have argued for various training models. Little detailed analysis has been done to identify root causes of low CC or ways to improve it. METHODS:: Two months of charts were reviewed to estimate baseline CC on a vascular surgery rotation. Probability theory and engineering simulations were used to determine whether CC can be enhanced by (a) lengthening rotations, (b) altering observed logistical patterns, (c) using a "resident return" model where residents are able to see patients postoperatively even if moved to a different rotation, or (d) employing an apprenticeship model. Results: Baseline analysis showed residents had 0% CC given 131 opportunities to do so. Probability analysis and the simulation outcomes suggest that rotation length plays a minor role in achieving CC. Logistical changes showed some improvement in CC, but not as much as using an apprenticeship rotation model. Conclusions: The limitations placed on CC by rotation duration are real, but lengthening the rotation does not meaningfully resolve the gap between acceptable CC levels and actual levels. Although CC can be enhanced with longer rotations if coupled with the use of the resident return model, the greater barrier to CC is the logistical patterns such as where residents spend time, how cases are assigned, and the lack of an alert system to inform residents about returning postoperative patients. The apprenticeship model enables residents to achieve CC closer to that of the faculty.
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