Background and objectives: Burnout is a widespread problem in medicine, especially among trainees. Despite this, data on effective interventions are limited. An organizational context for burnout entitled Areas of Worklife identified six areas of the work environment that can affect burnout through mismatches between individuals expectations of that area and the reality of the work environment. This study aimed to gain a deeper understanding of pediatric residents' perspectives of the Areas of Worklife to allow programs to utilize this framework in the development of future interventions.
Methods: Using qualitative methodology founded in grounded theory, we employed an iterative data collection by conducting semi-structured interviews, until data saturation was achieved, with 15 pediatric residents in 2018. We recorded interviews and transcribed them verbatim. Content analysis was conducted concurrently with data collection using constant comparison methods; the principal investigator and co-investigators worked jointly to generate codes and identify themes.
Results: Themes were identified for the individual Areas of Worklife that represented resident perspectives and mismatches with the work environment. Overall, patient care was a central focus connecting the areas of control, reward, values, and workload; themes in these areas concentrated on resident's ability to interact with and learn from patients.
Conclusions: Residents' definitions of the Areas of Worklife can be used to identify mismatches between residents' expectations and their work environment, which can inform organizational interventions. These findings highlight the importance of a patient-focused approach to residency training, which is consistent with literature that shows patient care is a means to find meaning in their work. Resident definitions of the Areas of Worklife offer residency programs a practical approach in their battle against burnout by providing focused direction to respond to resident needs and identify tangible targets for intervention.
Keywords: Burnout; autonomy; medical education; residency; worklife areas.