Purpose The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recognizes the importance of monitoring resident well-being, or quality of life, during residency training. Indeed, the ACGME-mandated work-hour limitations were part of a broad approach to promote not only patient safety but also resident well-being. Few studies have focused on resident quality of life and how it is influenced by specialty. The purpose of this study was to examine residents' attitudes toward their quality of life in comparison with others and to explore how specialty type influences quality of life ratings.
Methods A voluntary survey was given to all resident physicians at the University of Kentucky. Residents were asked to rate the quality of life of the average person, the average resident, their current quality of life, their quality of life last year, and their anticipated quality of life for the next year on a 9-point Likert scale (1 being the worst, 9 the best). Residents were also asked to respond to two open-ended statements: “The best thing about my life is…” and “The worst thing about my life is…” Data were analyzed using means and t-tests.
Results Overall, our results showed that residents perceived their current quality of life (5.2) as better than the average resident (4.5) but lower than the average person (6.0). Regarding differences in specialty, pediatrics and family medicine rated their quality of life as worse than the average resident. Comparing themselves with the average person, psychiatry and pathology rated their quality of life as higher. Similar to the general population, residents rated themselves with an optimistic bias for the next year. However, they also rated their current quality of life as worse than the previous year. In analyzing the open-ended responses, family was the most frequently identified response to “The best thing about my life is…” (44 responses). References to career or job satisfaction were less frequently identified with 11 responses. The most frequent response to “The worst thing about my life is…” regarded time limitations (27 responses).
Conclusions Perhaps surprisingly, residents in pediatrics and family medicine rated their quality of life as significantly lower than residents in other specialties. Although these data are from one institution and should be interpreted with caution, this finding was not anticipated as pediatrics and family medicine are specialties less strained by the work-hour limitations (compared with other specialties, such as surgery).
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