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Nationally ranked medical residency program yields higher quality care

A doctor takes notes while she has a happy exchange with a pregnant patient resting on a bed.

Northwell residents have access to the latest medical technologies, standards of care and insight from attending physicians

Academic medical centers offer higher-quality patient care than nonacademic hospitals, according to multiple studies included in a 2018 Academic Medicine report.

Graduate medical training at Northwell Health is a national standout. The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell has the fourth-highest number of residents in the nation among institutions that are accredited by ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) — 1,715 residents and fellows across 160 training programs. The numbers jump to 1,831 trainees when they include dental, podiatry and other accredited programs.

The sheer size of Northwell’s residency program is impressive,but depth really makes it special, said Andrew Yacht, MD, Northwell’s senior vice president of academic affairs, chief academic officer, professor of medicine and associate dean of graduate medical education at the Zucker School of Medicine.

“We have not only the size, but also the scope,” he said.

Direct benefits

A 2018 report in Academic Medicine found that patients in academic hospitals had significantly shorter lengths of stay, saw fewer consultants and incurred lower direct care costs than similar patients of a nonteaching service. Furthermore, a recent review of Medicare data found that major teaching hospitals have lower 30-day mortality rates that nonacademic institutions.

“Some of these benefits may come from the design of the teaching environment, which results in more frequent and more consistent attention to patients,” said Dr. Yacht. “Inpatients at nonacademic hospitals often see one doctor a day. But patients in academic medical centers see members of their team —attendings and residents — all day long.

"Our residents spend a lot of time taking care of our patients,” Dr. Yacht said. “They will often recognize clinical issues quickly,allowing them to be addressed in a way that benefits the patient. And residents often notice logistical or procedural problems and make recommendations for fixes that have direct impact on quality of care."

Changing health care delivery

A richer academic environment and more advanced technology are common to residency programs. That’s good for patients, attendings and trainees.

“Attendings in academic settings have access to the most sophisticated technology and standards of care. New procedures and new knowledge are constantly developing, and you’re a part of that,” said Dr. Yacht. “Teaching keeps you current as a clinician. You can’t stagnate when you’re teaching trainees the most innovative practices.”

Attendings also supervise trainee research. Research performed by Northwell attendings and house staff has significantly contributed to the medical literature and has direct impact on overall health care quality and advancing science.

“We, as a health system, are changing the way that care is delivered, and a lot of that is through the experiences and dedication of the residents who are a part of that,” said Dr. Yacht. “And with a 1,800-trainee workforce, that’s an awful lot of people who are directly impacting and advancing health care quality in general.”