Purpose: To examine how qualitative narrative comments and quantitative ratings from end-of-rotation assessments change for a cohort of residents from entry to graduation, and explore associations between comments and ratings. Method: The authors obtained end-of-rotation quantitative ratings and narrative comments for 1 cohort of internal medicine residents at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine from July 2013-June 2016. They inductively identified themes in comments, coded orientation (praising/critical) and relevance (specificity and actionability) of feedback, examined associations between codes and ratings, and evaluated changes in themes and ratings across years. Results: Data comprised 1,869 assessments (828 comments) on 33 residents. Five themes aligned with ACGME competencies (interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, medical knowledge, patient care, and systems-based practice), and 3 did not (personal attributes, summative judgment, and comparison to training level). Work ethic was the most frequent subtheme. Comments emphasized medical knowledge more in year 1 and focused more on autonomy, leadership, and teaching in later years. Most comments (714/828 [86%]) contained high praise, and 412/828 (50%) were very relevant. Average ratings correlated positively with orientation (β = 0.46, P <.001) and negatively with relevance (β = -0.09, P =.01). Ratings increased significantly with each training year (year 1, mean [standard deviation]: 5.31 [0.59]; year 2: 5.58 [0.47]; year 3: 5.86 [0.43]; P <.001). Conclusions: Narrative comments address resident attributes beyond the ACGME competencies and change as residents progress. Lower quantitative ratings are associated with more specific and actionable feedback.
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