Bronchoscopy Teaching Without a Gold Standard: Attending Pulmonologists’ Assessment of Learners, Supervisory Styles, and Variation in Practice

Anna K. Brady, James A. Town, Lynne Robins, Judith Bowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the growing role of simulation in procedural teaching, bronchoscopy training largely is experiential and occurs during patient care. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education sets a target of 100 bronchoscopies to be performed during pulmonary fellowship. Attending physicians must balance fellow autonomy with patient safety during these clinical teaching experiences. Few data on best practices for bronchoscopy teaching exist, and a better understanding of how bronchoscopy currently is supervised could allow for improvement in bronchoscopy teaching. Research Question: How do attending bronchoscopists supervise bronchoscopy, and in particular, how do attendings balance fellow autonomy with patient safety? Study Design and Methods: This was a focused ethnography conducted at a single center using audio recording of dialog between attendings and fellows during bronchoscopies, supplemented by observation of nonverbal teaching. Interviews with attending bronchoscopists and limited interviews of fellows also were recorded. Interviews were transcribed verbatim before analysis. We used constant comparative analysis to analyze data and qualitative research software to support data organization and thematic analysis. Education researchers from outside of pulmonary critical care joined the team to minimize bias. Results: We observed seven attending bronchoscopists supervising eight bronchoscopies. We noted distinct teaching behaviors, classified into themes, which then were grouped into four supervisory styles of modelling, coaching, scaffolding, and fading. Observation and interviews illuminated that assessing fellow skill was one tool used to choose a style, and attendings moved between styles. Attendings accepted some, but not all, variation in both performing and supervising bronchoscopy. Interpretation: Attending pulmonologists used a range of teaching microskills as they moved between different supervisory styles and selectively accepted variation in practice. These distinct approaches may create well-rounded bronchoscopists by the end of fellowship training and should be studied further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1799-1807
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • bronchoscopy
  • decision-making
  • education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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