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The "zing factor"-How do faculty describe the best pediatric residents?
Rosenbluth G et al. Journal of Graduate Medical Education March 2014.
Reviewed by Melissa Held


What was the study question? What are the qualities and behaviors that faculty use in identifying their "best" residents? How was the study done? This was a qualitative study using a general inductive approach. Supervising faculty were interviewed from 2 different residency programs covering 3 clinical sites. They used purposeful sampling to identify pediatric faculty from various academic and subspecialty areas. Interviews were conducted using a semistructured interview guide to elicit specific qualities or characteristics present in residents identified as being the "best." What are the results? There were 7 thematic categories that pediatric faculty used to identify the "best" residents:

  • Personality (humor, optimism, adaptable, humble, mature, empathy)
  • Energy (passion, enthusiasm, excitement, interest, "zing")
  • Professionalism (hardworking, reliable, responsible, meticulous (contrasted with patient care)
  • Team behaviors (relates to staff, teamwork, good communicator (with team), good listener (with team)
  • Self-improvement behaviors (reflective practice, solicits feedback, awareness of needs and self-assessment
  • Patient-interaction behaviors (follow-through, takes initiative, takes ownership, goes above and beyond, knows how hospital works)
  • Medical knowledge and clinical skills (command of facts and core knowledge, clinically "good," knowledge of procedures, brilliant, synthesis of knowledge, attention to detail)

What are the implications of these findings?
Some of the themes that emerged from this study overlapped with the ACGME competency and CanMEDS framework areas, but some did not. Much time was spent in discussion about resident personality traits such as having a sense of humor or humility. Far less time was spent discussing residents' medical knowledge than was expected. As we move towards behavior-based assessments, it may be important for this area to be further studied.

Editor's note: This study may inform future competency frameworks or it may inform faculty development planning in emphasizing the required competencies that faculty need to see in their residents (SLB).

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