Exploring residents and supervisors' workplace learning needs during postgraduate medical education

Int J Med Educ. 2023 May 31:14:65-74. doi: 10.5116/ijme.6470.d9ed.


Objectives: To identify the main enablers and challenges for workplace learning during postgraduate medical education among residents and their supervisors involved in training hospital specialists across different medical specialties and clinical teaching departments.

Methods: A qualitative explorative study using semi-structured focus group interviews was employed. A purposeful sampling method was utilized to invite participants who were involved in postgraduate medical education for hospital specialist medicine at two universities. Hospital physicians in training, also called residents (n=876) and supervisors (n=66), were invited by email to participate. Three focus groups were organized: two with residents and one with supervisors. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic rules prohibiting real group meetings, these focus groups were online and asynchronous. The data was analyzed following an inductive thematic analysis.

Results: The following overarching themes were identified: 1) the dual learning path, which balances working in the hospital and formal courses, 2) feedback, where quality, quantity, and frequency are discussed, and 3) learning support, including residents' self-directed learning, supervisors' guidance, and ePortfolio support.

Conclusions: Different enablers and challenges for postgraduate medical education were identified. These results can guide all stakeholders involved with workplace learning to develop a better understanding of how workplace learning can be optimized to improve the postgraduate medical education experience. Future studies could focus on confirming the results of this study in a broader, perhaps international setting and exploring strategies for aligning residencies to improve quality.

Keywords: postgraduate medical education; qualitative research; workplace learning.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Learning
  • Pandemics
  • Workplace