Exploring resident perspectives on family medicine enhanced skills training


  • Elise Azzi University of Ottawa
  • Edward Seale University of Ottawa
  • Douglas Archibald University of Ottawa




Background: Third-year enhanced skills programs, also known as family medicine (FM) PGY3 programs, have always been an area of debate. Their exponential growth does not stem from a strong body of academic evidence or public health needs assessment. This qualitative descriptive study explores the current perspectives of second-year FM residents at the University of Ottawa on extended training programs through semi-structured interviews.

Results: Of the fifteen participants, eight were applying to PGY3 FM programs, six were not and one was unsure. Themes generated included: developing generalist niches within primary care, increasing confidence of FM graduates, allowing generalists to fill in healthcare gaps to meet community needs, meeting the pressures of workplace competition and employability requirements, and creating alternate paths to five-year specialties. 80% would extend their core FM training, with self-design and options of shorter time frames as preconditions.

Conclusion: FM residents are interested in furthering their training, whether through extending core residency period or via enhanced skills programs. The demand for these programs will continue rising. Capitalizing on residents’ interests to catapult the profession forward and optimize the quality of healthcare should be the priority for licensing bodies and medical educators.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Elise Azzi, University of Ottawa

Lecturer, Department of Family Medicine

Edward Seale, University of Ottawa

Assisstant Professor, Postgraduate Director, Department of Family Medicine

Douglas Archibald, University of Ottawa

Associate Professor, Director of Research and Innovation, Department of Family Medicine University of Ottawa


Green M, Birtwhistle R, MacDonald K, Schmelzle J. Resident and program director perspectives on third-year family medicine programs. Can Fam Physician. 2009;55(9).

Busing N. Survey of third-year postgraduate training positions in family medicine. Can Fam Physician. 1992;38(June):1393–6.

Chaytors RG, Spooner GR, Moores DG, Woodhead-Lyons SC. Postgraduate training positions: follow-up survey of third-year residents in family medicine. Can Fam Physician. 1999;45(JAN.):88–91.

Dhillon P. Shifting into third gear: Current options and controversies in third-year postgraduate family medicine programs in Canada. Can Fam Physician. 2013;59(9):406–12.

College of Family Physicians of Canada. College of Family Physicians of Canada Member Interest Groups Section [Internet]. 2020. Available from: https://www.cfpc.ca/CFPC/media/PDF/MIGS-Strategic-Plan-Final.pdf [Accessed Nov 17, 2021].

Slade S, Ross S, Lawrence K, Archibald D, Palacios Mackay M, Oandasan IF. Extended family medicine training. Can Fam Physician. 2016;62(December 2016):749–57.

Oandasan IF, Saucier D, (eds). Triple C competency-based curriculum report – Part 2: advancing implementation. Mississauga, Ontario; 2013. Available from: www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Education/_PDFs/TripleC_Report_pt2.pdf.

Shaw E, Oandasan I, Fowler N. CanMeds-FM 2017: A competency framework for family physicians across the continuum. Mississauga, Ontario; 2017. Available from: http://www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Resources/Resource_Items/Health_Professionals/CanMEDS-Family-Medicine-2017-ENG.pdf

Hyejin K, Sefcik JS, Bradway C. Characteristics of qualitative descriptive studies: a systematic review. Res nurs health. 40.1 (2017): 23-42. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.21768

Lacey Α, Luff D. Qualitative Data Analysis. Trent Focus Research Dev Prim Heal Care. 2001

Kennedy TJT, Lingard LA. Making sense of grounded theory in medical education. Med Educ [Internet].2006;40(2):101–8. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02378.x

Green M, Birtwhistle R, MacDonald K, Kane J, Schmelzle J. Practice patterns of graduates of 2- and 3-year family medicine programs: In Ontario, 1996 to 2004. Can Fam Physician. 2009;55(9).

Llyod S, Streiner D, Shannon S. Family medicine residency programs: evaluating the need for different third year programs. Can Fam Physician. 1994;10(February):273–8.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada. Canadian Medical Association. National Physician Survey 2013. Results for Family Physicians. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. 2013 Available from: https://www.hhr-rhs.ca/fr/outils/bibliotheque/english-french/national-physician-survey.html [Accessed on Nov 17, 2021].

Busing N. Survey of third-year postgraduate training positions in family medicine. Can Fam Physician. 1992;38(June):1393–6.

Winter RO. How long does it take to become a competent family physician? J Am Board Fam Pract. 2004;17(5):391–3. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.17.5.391

Lemire F, Fowler N. Pursuing longer family medicine training. Can Fam Physician. 2021; 67(218)




How to Cite

Azzi E, Seale E, Archibald D. Exploring resident perspectives on family medicine enhanced skills training. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2022 Aug. 22 [cited 2024 Jul. 14];13(6):57-63. Available from: https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cmej/article/view/72657



Brief Reports

Most read articles by the same author(s)