Self-Directed Learning among Internal Medicine Residents in the Information Age

Matthew Kelleher, Rebecca E. Miller, Ashley Duckett, Paul O'Rourke, Lindsey Hall, Miao Shan Yen, Stephanie A. Call, Steven E. Bishop, Sean Tackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives The revolution in information technology and a rapidly expanding evidence base are changing residency training. Understanding the habits and preferences of trainees' self-directed learning (SDL) has never been more important. Our goal was to provide a contemporary description of residents' SDL practices. Methods Internal medicine residents at four university-affiliated programs were surveyed in Spring 2017. Residents estimated the number of hours in their typical week spent in SDL on service and after hours when on inpatient and noninpatient rotations, how often they used specific educational resources for SDL, and the percentage of time that they used four different modes to access resources. Results Of 384 residents, a total of 254 (66%) responded. Residents spent more total hours in SDL on noninpatient services (median 11, interquartile range 8-17) than on inpatient services (median 7, interquartile range 4-10) and the same median number of hours in SDL on clinical duty as off hours for both inpatient (median 3 hours) and noninpatient (median 5 hours) rotations. Nearly all of the respondents (99%) reported using online point-of-care resources for SDL at least once per week. Most (77%) never used printed textbooks. Desktop/laptop was the most commonly used (47% of the time) medium to access resources. Conclusions Although the resident learning environment and resource use are changing, residents engage in as much or more time in SDL as in previous studies, with a large proportion occurring during clinical service. Understanding residents' current SDL habits will better prepare educators to support and guide our trainees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-461
Number of pages5
JournalSouthern medical journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • internal medicine
  • residency
  • resources for learning
  • self-directed learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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