Exploring How Personal, Social, and Institutional Characteristics Contribute to Geriatric Medicine Subspecialty Decisions: A Qualitative Study of Trainees’ Perceptions

Minakshi Raj, Jodyn E. Platt, Denise L. Anthony, James T. Fitzgerald, Shoou-yih Daniel Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To explore internal medicine residents' and geriatrics fellows' perceptions of how personal, social, and institutional characteristics contribute to their professional identity and subspecialty decisions related to geriatric medicine.

Method: The authors conducted 23 in-depth, semistructured interviews with internal medicine residents, with and without an interest in geriatrics, and geriatrics fellows across 3 academic medical centers in the United States from October 2018 through June 2019. They then used a qualitative narrative approach to analyze the interview data.

Results: Trainees related personal experiences, such as exposure to physicians and experiences with grandparents, to their interest in medicine. Trainees with an interest in geriatrics at 2 institutions did not feel supported, or understood, by peers and mentors in their respective institutions but maintained their interest in the field. The following variations between institutions that are supportive and those that are not were noted: the number of geriatricians, the proximity of the institution to geriatrics clinics, and the ways in which institutional leaders portrayed the prestige of geriatric medicine. Institutional characteristics influenced trainees' understanding of what it meant to be a doctor, what meaning they garnered from work as a physician, and their comfort with different types of complexity, such as those presented when providing care to older adults.

Conclusions: Institutional characteristics may be particularly important in shaping trainee interest in geriatric medicine. Institutions should encourage leadership training and opportunities for geriatricians so they can serve as role models and as hands-on mentors for trainees beginning in medical school. Increasing the number of geriatricians requires institutions to increase the value they place on geriatrics to generate a positive interest in this field among trainees. Institutions facilitating formation of professional identity and sense of purpose in work may consider engaging geriatricians in leadership and mentoring roles as well as curriculum development.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-432
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume96
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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