Background The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Internal Medicine Residency Program Guidelines identifies leadership as a core competency. The definition of strong resident leadership is not clearly defined. Prior studies have identified characteristics of resident leadership from the perspective of residency program leaders with little emphasis on the resident point of view.
Objective This study aims to identify qualities of effective resident leadership from the perspective of Internal Medicine (IM) residents.
Methods Participants were recruited through email invitations. An online focus group with five IM residents was conducted in September 2020. The transcribed discussion was inductively analyzed using thematic data analysis.
Results Analysis resulted in four main themes of strong resident leadership: mentorship, team ownership, communication, and emotional intelligence. All four themes were further characterized by subthemes. Being a mentor as a resident leader was described as having the ability to guide, motivate, and empower team members. Team ownership was defined as caring about team image, adaptability, and accountability for team performance. Communication skills included setting expectations, giving feedback, and utilizing closed-loop communication. Emotional intelligence was characterized as practicing empathy, psychological safety, and appreciation.
Conclusions Strong resident leadership is crucial to providing effective residency training and the highest level of patient care. This study identifies from the perspective of residents, the principal characteristics of strong resident leadership: mentorship, communication, team ownership, and emotional intelligence. The identification of these characteristics provides an opportunity to create leadership curricula for residents that focus on developing these specific skills.
Trial Registration The University of Miami institutional review board (IRB) approved this study: IRB number MOD0041899 on September 14, 2020.