Residents: Important Members of the Healthcare Team

All the work that resident physicians perform is carried out within a team-based framework. The faster residents understand and feel comfortable in their roles and duties in the high stress hospital environment, the sooner they can become productive members of the healthcare team, contributing to high quality patient-centered care while developing their medical practice skills. How easily new residents make this transition can depend on the support they receive from hospital administrators and clinical staff.

Communication, teamwork, and good relationships are keys for effective continuity of care.

A key factor in mitigating the problems associated with multiple care providers is a commitment to interprofessional teamwork and building strong relationships with the members of the team. Residents must learn how to navigate this system.

Residents typically interact with a large number of patients during a single shift or can be rotated among different teams. Therefore, good communication and information flow are essential for effective continuity of care. This pertains not only to communication with patients and attendings, but also with other residents, nursing staff, and other hospital-based healthcare professionals.

Trainees contribute continuity of care and the smooth functioning of the healthcare team in many important ways. Some of these include:


The very act of eliciting an informative, confidential history (medical, social, family) provides the resident with an opportunity to establish or enhance the unique bond that forms the basis for the ideal patient-physician relationship. The patient should be heard and Inflections of voice, facial expression, gestures, and attitude (i.e., “body language”) noted. The resident should provide expressions of interest, encouragement, and empathy. Any event related by a patient, however trivial or seemingly irrelevant, may point to features to be pursued more thoroughly during the physical examination and provide the key to and solving the medical problem.

Physical Examination

A methodical and thorough physical examination identifies physical signs of disease, the significance of which is enhanced when they confirm a functional or structural change already suggested by the patient’s history. At times, however, physical signs may be the only evidence of disease.

Accurate Electronic Medical Record Entry

Residents must become proficient with electronic medical records systems, which offer rapid access to information that is invaluable in enhancing healthcare quality and patient safety. Accurate data entry helps to inform all members of the healthcare team and reduce medical errors. It includes relevant data, historical and clinical information, imaging studies, laboratory results, and medication records.

Appreciation of the Patient’s Hospital Experience

The hospital is an intimidating environment for most individuals. Residents who can appreciate the hospital experience from the patient’s perspective and who make an effort to be understanding and supportive through this experience may make a stressful situation more tolerable.

How can hospital administrators and clinical staff help residents successfully integrate into the healthcare team?

One way is to provide residents with easy, searchable access to the definitive resource that reinforces the building blocks of good clinical practice: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. Trusted by residents for more than six decades, no other reference has matched the authority, esteemed scholarship, comprehensive coverage, and scientific rigor of this iconic work.

Learn more about the how to support physicians-in-training as they progress from competency, to proficiency, to mastery. Download this white paper, The Practice of Medicine, and share with colleagues responsible for resident education and residents themselves.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,