Improving resident well-being and clinical learning environment through academic initiatives

J Surg Res. 2017 Jul;215:6-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.02.054. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


Background: Organizational effects on job satisfaction, burnout, work-life balance, and perceived support have not been studied in the context of the clinical learning environment. We evaluated the relationship between academic resources and resident well-being, the clinical learning environment, and in-service examination performance of surgical residents.

Materials and methods: Residents of general surgery and surgical specialty programs were recruited from March 2016 through June 2016 across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions. Program directors were asked to allow distribution of a paper survey or to forward an electronic survey link onto residents. Five dichotomous questions were asked regarding access to academic resources. Validated measures were obtained assessing resident well-being and perceived clinical learning environment. Data were analyzed through t-tests and chi-squared test of independence.

Results: We received 276 respondents across 50 programs. Residents perceiving adequate support to succeed had less burnout (P = 0.008), better resilience (P = 0.009), better job satisfaction (P < 0.001), less work/life strain (P = 0.001), better workplace climate (P < 0.001), better organizational support (P < 0.001), and were more likely to have high performance on the in-service examination (P = 0.001). Specific resources including educational stipends, review questions, in-service board prep, and support for poor performers correlated with improved well-being and perceived clinical learning environment.

Conclusions: Provision of academic resources has implications beyond in-service examination performance, correlating with improved resident well-being and perceptions of the clinical learning environment.

Keywords: Burnout; Educational resources; Perceived organizational support; Surgical resident; Well-being; Workplace climate.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture
  • Social Support*
  • Specialties, Surgical / education*
  • United States
  • Work-Life Balance / organization & administration*