Purpose. To assess the perspectives of internal medicine (IM) residency directors on issues that might determine the feasibility of consortia for IM graduate medical education (GME). Method. A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to all 413 U.S. IM program directors in June 1994. Of the 413 IM programs, 215 were located in community hospitals; 123 in university hospitals; and 75 in municipal, Veterans Administration, or military hospitals, or hospitals associated with multispecialty clinics ('other'). The questionnaire elicited responses concerning (1) perspectives on the quality of academic affiliations, (2) experience with formal institutional collaboration on GME issues and projection of consortium success, and (3) possible barriers to the success of consortia. Data were analyzed by comparing responses from the three program categories. Results. In all, 330 (80%) program directors responded. Two-thirds reported ongoing academic affiliations. A larger percentage of university program directors considered these ties to be strong and advantageous than did their colleagues in community or other hospitals, who also considered their affiliations to be less equitable and less mutually trusting. Only 31% of community and university programs and 40% of other programs reported any prior experience with institutional collaboration on GME issues. A high percentage of those respondents considered these collaborative experiences to be successful and were optimistic about the projected success of consortia. Of seven possible barriers to consortium success, competition, governance, bureaucracy, and mistrust were most often perceived as major barriers. Conclusion. The data appear to indicate some optimism for the prospects of GME consortia, thereby supporting their feasibility for IM GME. Although many respondents perceived barriers to success, such perceptions were less common among program directors who had direct experience with previous collaborative efforts. Nevertheless, these barriers may require attention if consortia are to succeed in achieving their many possible advantages.
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