Purpose: Although researchers have investigated the value of physician role models, residents as role models have received less attention. The objectives of this study were to (1) investigate the importance of resident role models in the education and career choices of medical students, (2) examine the types of factors students judge to be most important in selecting resident role models, and (3) evaluate the specific attributes (within each factor type) that students perceive to be most important, comparing these attributes with those previously published on physician role models.
Method: This was a cross-sectional, survey-based study, conducted in 2011, in which graduating medical students at McGill University completed a questionnaire on their perceptions of resident role models. The authors analyzed data using descriptive statistics and, for items with scalar responses, repeated measures analysis of variance.
Results: Of 165 possible student respondents, 151 (92%) completed the questionnaire. The findings suggest that (1) resident role models play an important role in both the education and career choice of medical students, (2) resident and attending staff role models are equally important to the education of medical students, although attending staff role models appear to be more important for students' career choices, and (3) the factors and specific attributes important in selecting resident role models align with those in previously published literature on physician role models.
Conclusions: This study, suggesting that resident and attending physician role models are equally important to undergraduate education, highlights the importance of supporting residents in their status as role models.