Teaching Systems-Based Practice to Residents by Using Independent Study Projects

The Health Systems Independent Study Project (HSISP) at the Oregon Health & Science University residency program was reviewed in the current study. HSISP is an innovative example of the changing health systems curriculum for medical residents. As part of the HSISP, residents pursue independent study, with the assistance of a mentor, on a specific area of interest in the field of health care systems and population-based medicine. Twenty-eight residents completed 40 hours of practice-based work over an eight-week period between January 2001 and June 2003. The majority (64%) of these residents then completed an open-ended questionnaire about their experience.

Key Findings:

  • Residents described the experience as extremely helpful. Highlighted areas of knowledge gained were: more information about the topic of investigation, better comprehension of health systems and an increased understanding of community resources.
  • Other insights garnered by residents participating in the HSISP were in the areas of managing chronic diseases, access to health care and dissonance between evidence and practice.
  • Challenges encountered while putting the HSISP into practice included managing compliance with government regulations and increasing residents' willingness to pursue systems-based topics of research as opposed to conventional scientific projects.