Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 52–56

Impact of Resident Well-Being and Empathy on Assessments of Faculty Physicians


    • Division of General Internal MedicineMayo Clinic
  • Darcy A. Reed
    • Division of Primary Care Internal MedicineMayo Clinic College of Medicine
  • Tait D. Shanafelt
    • Division of HematologyMayo Clinic College of Medicine
  • Colin P. West
    • Division of General Internal MedicineMayo Clinic
    • Division of Biomedical Statistics and InformaticsMayo Clinic College of Medicine
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-009-1152-0

Cite this article as:
Beckman, T.J., Reed, D.A., Shanafelt, T.D. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2010) 25: 52. doi:10.1007/s11606-009-1152-0



Teaching effectiveness is an important criterion for promoting clinician-educators. However, the relationship between residents’ psychological characteristics and their assessments of faculty physicians is unknown.


To determine whether residents’ well-being and empathy influenced their assessments of faculty physicians.

Design, Setting, and Participants

We studied 1,191 assessments of 356 faculty physicians by 209 internal medicine residents at a large academic medical center from 2007 to 2008. A repeated measures design with multivariate generalized estimating equations was used to evaluate associations between resident well-being and empathy, and residents’ assessments of faculty.


Resident surveys included standardized measures of quality of life, burnout, depression, and empathy. Residents assessed faculty members’ teaching performance with a validated 16-item instrument.


149 residents (71%) provided well-being, empathy, and assessment data. In multivariate models, faculty assessments from the previous year were the strongest predictor of current resident-of-faculty assessment scores. Residents’ Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) scores were also associated with faculty assessments (beta = 0.0063, 95% CI = 0.0018–0.0108; p = .0061). On this 140-point, 20-item scale, a 10-point increase in empathy correlated with a 0.063-point increase in residents’ assessments of faculty on a 5-point scale. There were no significant associations between residents’ assessments of faculty and quality of life, burnout, or depression.


This study demonstrates that residents’ well-being does not influence their assessments of faculty physicians, thus supporting the trustworthiness of these assessments as a criterion for promoting clinician-educators. However, the association between residents’ empathy and resident-of-faculty assessments suggests that faculty assessments may be modestly influenced by residents’ intrinsic characteristics.


resident well-beingresident empathyfacultyclinical teachingclinician-educator

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2009