Exploring the evolving concept of ‘patient ownership’ in the era of resident duty hour regulations—experience of residents and faculty in an internal medicine night float system

Diana Dolmans
Linda Snell
Ning-Zi Sun
Vanessa Masson
Soort article
Original Research
Duty hours,
Night float,
Patient ownership,
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Background Despite the use of ‘patient ownership’ as an embodiment of professionalism and increasing concerns over its loss among trainees, how its development in residents has been affected by duty hour regulations has not been well described. In this qualitative study, we aim to outline the key features of patient ownership in internal medicine, factors enabling its development, and how these have been affected by the adoption of a night float system to comply with duty hour regulations.

Methods In this qualitative descriptive study, we interviewed 18 residents and 12 faculty internists at one university centre and conducted a thematic analysis of the data focused on the concept of patient ownership.

Results We identified three key features of patient ownership: personal concern for patients, professional capacity for autonomous decision-making, and knowledge of patients’ issues. Within the context of a night float system, factors that facilitate development of patient ownership include improved fitness for duty and more consistent interactions with patients/families resulting from working the same shift over consecutive days (or nights). Conversely, the increase in patient handovers, if done poorly, is a potential threat to patient ownership development. Trainees often struggle to develop ownership when autonomy is not supported with supervision and when role-modelling by faculty is lacking.

Discussion These features of patient ownership can be used to frame discussions when coaching trainees. Residency programs should be mindful of the downstream effects of shift-based scheduling. We propose strategies to optimize factors that enable trainee development of patient ownership.


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