Background: Faculty members rely on residents' feedback about their teaching performance. The influence of residents' characteristics on evaluations of faculty is relatively unexplored. We aimed to evaluate the levels of work engagement and empathy among residents and the association of both characteristics with their evaluation of the faculty's teaching performance.
Methods: A multicenter questionnaire study among 271 surgery and gynecology residents was performed from September 2012 to February 2013. Residents' ratings of the faculty's teaching performance were collected using the system for evaluation of teaching quality (SETQ). Residents were also invited to fill out standardized measures of work engagement and empathy using the short Utrecht Work Engagement Scale and the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy, respectively. Linear regression analysis using generalized estimating equations to evaluate the association of residents' engagement and empathy with residents' evaluations of teaching performance.
Results: Overall, 204 (75.3 %) residents completed 1814 SETQ evaluations of 302 faculty, and 143 (52.8 %) and 140 (51.7 %) residents, respectively, completed the engagement and empathy measurements. The median scores of residents' engagement and empathy were 4.56 (scale 0-6) and 5.55 (scale 1-7), respectively. Higher levels of residents' engagement (regression coefficient b = 0.128; 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.072-0.184; p < 0.001) and empathy (b = 0.113; 95 % CI 0.063-0.164; p < 0.001) were associated with higher faculty teaching performance scores.
Conclusions: Residents' engagement and empathy appear to be positively associated with their evaluation of the faculty's performance. A possible explanation is that residents who are more engaged and can understand and share others' perspectives stimulate and experience faculty's teaching better than others.