The Relationship Between Residents' Perceptions of Residency Program Leadership Team Behaviors and Resident Burnout and Satisfaction

Acad Med. 2020 Jun 9. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003538. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To explore the relationship between residents' perceptions of residency program leadership team behaviors and resident burnout and satisfaction.

Method: In February 2019, the authors surveyed all residents across the 77 graduate medical education training programs at Mayo Clinic's multiple sites. Survey items measured residents' perceptions of program director and associate program director behaviors (using a composite residency program leadership team score), resident burnout, and resident satisfaction with the program and organization. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to evaluate relationships between these variables at the individual resident (adjusting for age, sex, postgraduate training year, program location, and specialty) and program (including only programs with at least 5 respondents) levels.

Results: Of the 1,146 residents surveyed, 762 (66.5%) responded. At the individual resident level, higher composite leadership team scores were associated with lower emotional exhaustion and depersonalization and higher overall satisfaction with the residency program and organization (all P < .001). In adjusted logistic regression models, each 1-point gain in composite leadership team score was associated with 9% lower odds of burnout, 20% higher odds of program satisfaction, and 19% higher odds of satisfaction with the organization (all P < .001). At the residency program level, higher mean composite leadership team scores were associated with a lower rate of burnout (r = -0.35, P = .03) and higher program and organization satisfaction (r = 0.67 and 0.74 respectively, both P < .001).

Conclusions: The behaviors of residency program leadership teams influence residents' burnout and satisfaction. Additional studies are needed to determine if leadership training results in improved resident well-being and satisfaction.