Personal Growth During Internship : A Qualitative Analysis of Interns' Responses to Key Questions

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BACKGROUND: During clinical training, house officers frequently encounter intense experiences that may affect their personal growth. The purpose of this study was to explore processes related to personal growth during internship.

DESIGN: Prospective qualitative study conducted over the course of internship.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-two postgraduate year (PGY)-1 residents from 9 U.S. internal medicine training programs.

APPROACH: Every 8 weeks, interns responded by e-mail to an open ended question related to personal growth. Content analysis methods were used to analyze the interns’ writings to identify triggers, facilitators, and barriers related to personal growth.

RESULTS: Triggers for personal growth included caring for critically ill or dying patients, receiving feedback, witnessing unprofessional behavior, experiencing personal problems, and dealing with the increased responsibility of internship. Facilitators of personal growth included supportive relationships, reflection, and commitment to core values. Fatigue, lack of personal time, and overwhelming work were barriers to personal growth. The balance between facilitators and barriers may dictate the extent to which personal growth occurs.

CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to support personal growth during residency training include fostering supportive relationships, encouraging reflection, and recognizing interns’ core values especially in association with powerful triggers.


Levine R, Haidet P, Kern DE, Beasley BW, Bensinger L, Brady DW,Gress T, Hughes J, Marwaha A, Nelson J, Wright SM. Personal growth during internship: a qualitative analysis of intern’s responses to key questions. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2006; volume 21, Number 6, 564–9.

doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00383.x

PubMedCentral open access article.

Copyright © 2006 by the Society of General Internal Medicine. All rights reserved.