To characterize the extent and format of otolaryngology instruction during family medicine and communication disorders training and to determine the comfort level of graduate trainees to assess specific hearing disorders.
Online surveys were sent to program directors in the fields of family medicine, audiology, and speech pathology. Directors were asked to delineate methods of teaching otolaryngology-related material and to define how often otolaryngologists were involved in their curricula. They were also asked to rate their graduate trainees' ability to manage 3 clinical scenarios involving pediatric hearing impairment.
A total of 682 surveys were sent using e-mail addresses from the American Medical Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Response rates were 20% for family medicine programs and 30% for each of the communication science disciplines. Virtually all respondent family medicine programs have dedicated instruction in otolaryngology, typically in the form of a clinical rotation (98%). Ninety-five percent of audiology programs involve an otolaryngologist in teaching compared with 55% of speech pathology programs. Otolaryngology-related diagnostic examination skills are taught by most programs in all 3 disciplines; confirmation of skills acquisition, however, is lacking. Directors rated the competence of their trainees to manage hearing disorders at an average of 3.4 for audiology, 2.7 for speech pathology, and 2.6 for family medicine graduates on a 4-point scale.
Respondent directors from all 3 disciplines make a concerted effort to teach otolaryngology-related topics. A greater emphasis on those otolaryngology disorders requiring multidisciplinary care appears necessary, as does more formal instruction in and competency evaluation of diagnostic examination skills.