Fellowship is an integral component of the continuing formal education of physicians. In order to practice medicine independently, physicians must receive a medical degree and complete a supervised period of residency training in a specialty area. To become a subspecialist, they must complete an additional fellowship following residency. To meet their educational goals, fellows must participate actively in the advanced care of patients and must assume progressively more responsibility for that care as they advance through their training.
In supervising fellowship education, faculty must ensure that trainees acquire the knowledge and special skills of their respective disciplines while adhering to the highest standards of quality and safety in the delivery of patient care services. In addition, faculty members are charged with nurturing those values and behaviors that strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and that sustain the profession of medicine as an ethical enterprise.
Core Tenets of Fellowship Education
Excellence in Medical Education
Institutional sponsors of fellowships programs and program faculty must be committed to maintaining high standards of educational quality. Fellows are, first and foremost, learners. Accordingly, a fellow’s educational needs should be the primary determinant of any assigned patient care services. Fellows must, however, remain mindful of their oath as physicians and recognize that their responsibilities to their patients always take priority over purely educational considerations.
Highest Quality Patient Care and Safety
Preparing future physicians to meet patients’ expectations for optimal care requires that they learn in clinical settings epitomizing the highest standards of medical practice. Indeed, the primary obligation of institutions and individuals providing resident education is the provision of high quality, safe patient care. By allowing fellows to participate in the care of their patients, faculty members accept an obligation to ensure high-quality medical care in all learning environments.
Respect for Fellows’ Well-Being
Fundamental to the ethic of medicine is respect for every individual. In keeping with their status as trainees, fellows are especially vulnerable and their well-being must be accorded the highest priority. Given the uncommon stresses inherent in fulfilling the demands of their training program, fellows must be allowed sufficient opportunities to meet personal and family obligations, pursue recreational activities and to obtain adequate rest.
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