Introduction: Medical care of patients with complex conditions has shifted to the ambulatory setting, whereas current knowledge of resident learning is primarily based on studies from inpatient settings. Preparing trainees to adapt to this shift necessitates an understanding of what internal medicine (IM) residents currently learn during ambulatory rotations. The aim of this study is to identify what residents learn during their ambulatory care experience. Methods: Using a qualitative instrumental case study design, the authors conducted separate focus groups with IM trainees (n = 15), supervisors (n = 16), and program directors (n = 5) from two IM programs in New York City, USA in 2019. Participants were invited via email, and focus group sessions were complemented by document analysis of ambulatory syllabi. Results: Based on focus group commentary and document analysis, content learned in the ambulatory setting encompassed three domains; 1) patient needs, 2) the resident’s role within a healthcare team, and 3) health system opportunities and limitations. Residents also learned about tensions within and between these domains including the skills needed to care for patients versus the skills acquired, a desire for ownership of patient care versus fragmented care, and time allotted versus time required. Discussion: This study revealed two outcomes about what residents learn during their ambulatory care experience. First, learning content largely fell into three domains. Second, residents learned about the tensions between ideal care delivery and the realities of practice. These results highlight the imperative to better align curricula with clinical environments to meet the learning needs of residents.