Faculty Support for Self-Directed Learning in Internal Medicine Residency: A Qualitative Study Using Grounded Theory

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Abstract

Purpose

Self-directed learning (SDL) is part of residency training, which residents desire guidance in implementing. To characterize SDL within the clinical context, this study explored residents’ perceptions of faculty members’ role in promoting and supporting resident SDL.

Method

Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, the authors conducted seven focus groups with 46 internal medicine residents at the Mayo Clinic Internal Medicine Residency Program from October 2014 to January 2015. Focus group transcripts were deidentified and processed through open coding and analytic memo writing. Guided by a previously developed SDL model, data were analyzed regarding faculty member involvement in resident SDL. Themes were organized and patterns were discussed at team meetings, with constant comparison with new data. Trustworthiness was established using two member-check sessions.

Results

The authors identified themes within the categories of faculty guidance for SDL, SDL versus other-directed learning (ODL), and faculty archetypes for supporting SDL. Clinical teachers play a key role in facilitating resident SDL and can provide guidance at each step in the SDL process. Residents discussed the distinction between SDL and ODL, highlighting the integrated nature of learning and interplay between the two approaches to learning. Residents identified themes relating to three archetypal approaches faculty implement to support resident SDL in the clinical environment (directed, collaborative, and role model SDL), with benefits and challenges of each approach.

Conclusions

This study underscores the importance of external guidance for resident SDL and expands on approaches faculty members can use to support SDL in the clinical context.

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