Are Family Practice Residents able to Interpret Electrocardiograms?

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Advances in Health Sciences Education




Background: Teaching electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation is a recommended component of the family practice residency curriculum. Published information concerning the ECG interpretation ability of residents is sparse. This study sought to ascertain the base line knowledge of family practice residents' ECG interpretation skills and extent of improvement after one year of training.

Methods: A 15 ECG examination was administered to 38 PG-1 and 14 upper level residents at 5 residency programs at the beginning of the academic year and to residents at the authors' program at the end of the academic year. Pre-test scores among the five programs were compared using an analysis of variance (ANOVA). Pre-test and post-test scores were compared using a paired randomization test.

Results: No difference was found between average scores from each site, or between the beginning and end of the academic year. Residents were more likely to misinterpret items such as myocardial infarction, myocardial ischemia, and a trial fibrillation.

Conclusions: Residents in family practice have considerable deficiencies in ECG interpretation skills. Further studies are needed to determine effective ECG teaching curricula.