Balancing the Roles of a Family Medicine Residency Faculty: A Grounded Theory Study

Fam Med. 2016 May;48(5):359-65.


Background and objectives: Great variety exists in the roles that family medicine residency faculty fill in the lives of their residents. A family medicine-specific model has never been created to describe and promote effective training relationships. This research aims to create a consensus model for faculty development, ethics education, and policy creation.

Methods: Using a modified grounded theory methods, researchers conducted phone interviews with 22 key informants from US family medicine residencies. Data were analyzed to delineate faculty roles, common role conflicts, and ethical principles for avoiding and managing role conflicts. Key informants were asked to apply their experience and preferences to adapt an existing model to fit with family medicine residency settings.

Results: The primary result of this research is the creation of a family medicine-specific model that describes faculty roles and provides insight into how to manage role conflicts with residents. Primary faculty roles include Role Model, Advisor, Teacher, Supervisor, and Evaluator. Secondary faculty roles include Friendly Colleague, Wellness Supporter, and Helping Hand. The secondary roles exist on a continuum from disengaged to enmeshed. When not balanced, the secondary roles can detract from the primary roles. Differences were found between role expectations of physician versus behavioral science faculty and larger/university/urban residencies versus smaller/community/rural residencies.

Conclusions: Diversity of opinion exists related to the types of roles that are appropriate for family medicine faculty to maintain with residents. This new model is a first attempt to build consensus in the field and has application to faculty development, ethics education, and policy creation.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Professional Role*
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Urban Population