Predictors of Surgery Resident Satisfaction With Teaching by Attendings: A National Survey

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Abstract

Objective:

To identify factors that predict fourth- and fifth-year surgical resident satisfaction of attending teaching quality.

Summary Background Data:

With the training of surgical residents undergoing major changes, a key issue facing surgical educators is whether high-quality surgeons can still be produced. Innovative techniques (eg, computer simulation surgery) are being developed to substitute partially for conventional teaching methods. However, an aspect of training that cannot be so easily replaced is the faculty–resident interaction. This study investigates resident perceptions of attending teaching quality and the factors associated with this faculty–resident interaction to identify predictors of resident educational satisfaction.

Methods:

A national survey of clinical fourth- and fifth-year surgery residents in 125 academically affiliated general surgery training programs was performed. The survey contained 67 questions and addressed demographics, hospital, and service characteristics, as well as surgery, education, and clinical care-related factors. Univariate analyses were performed to describe the characteristics of the sample; multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate the factors associated with resident educational satisfaction.

Results:

The response rate was 61.5% (n = 756). Average age was 32 years; most were male (79%), white (72%), and married (69%); 42% had children. Ninety-five percent of respondents graduated from U.S. medical schools, and the average debt was $80,307. Of 20 potentially mutable factors, 6 variables had positive associations with resident education satisfaction and 7 had negative associations. Positive factors included the resident being the operating surgeon in major surgeries, substantial citing of evidence-based literature by the attending, attending physicians giving spontaneous or unplanned presentations, increasing the continuity of care, clinical teaching aimed at the chief resident level, and having clinical decisions made together by both the attending and resident. There were 7 negative factors such as overly supervising in surgery, being interrupted so much that teaching was ineffective, and attending physicians being rushed and/or eager to finish rounds.

Conclusion:

This study identifies several factors that were associated with resident educational satisfaction. It offers the perspective of the learners (ie, residents) and, importantly, highlights mutable factors that surgery faculty (and departments) may consider changing to improve surgery resident education and satisfaction. Improving such satisfaction may help to produce a better product.

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