Unprofessionalism in anesthesiology: A qualitative study on classifying unprofessional behavior in anesthesiology residency education

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Journal of clinical anesthesia


STUDY OBJECTIVE: This study aims to identify the domains that constitute behaviors perceived to be unprofessional in anesthesiology residency training programs.

DESIGN: Qualitative study.

SETTING: Anesthesiology residency training programs.

PATIENTS: Not applicable. The participants involved residents, fellows, and faculty members purposefully sampled in four US-based anesthesiology residency programs.

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were asked to submit examples of unprofessional behavior they witnessed in anesthesiology residents, fellows, or faculty members via a Qualtrics link.

MEASUREMENTS: Not applicable. The behavior examples were independently reviewed and categorized into themes using content analysis.

MAIN RESULTS: A total of 116 vignettes were collected, resulting in a final list of 111 vignettes after excluding those that did not describe behavior exhibited by anesthesiology faculty or trainees. Fifty-eight vignettes pertained to unprofessional behaviors observed in faculty members and 53 were observed in trainees (residents and fellows). Nine unprofessionalism themes emerged in the analysis. The most common themes were VERBAL, SUPERVISION, QUALITY, ENGAGEMENT, and TIME. As to the distribution of role group (faculty versus trainee) by theme, unprofessional behaviors falling into the categories of BIAS, GOSSIP, LEWD, and VERBAL were observed more in faculty; whereas themes with unprofessional behavior primarily attributed to trainees included ENGAGEMENT, QUALITY, TIME, and SUPERVISION.

CONCLUSION: By reviewing reported professionalism-related vignettes within residency training programs, we identified classification descriptors for defining unprofessional behavior specific to anesthesiology residency education. Findings from this study enrich the definition of professionalism as a multi-dimensional competency pertaining to anesthesiology graduate medical education. This framework may facilitate preventative intervention and timely remediation plans for unprofessional behavior in residents and faculty.

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