Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 52–56

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

  • Thomas J. Beckman
  • Darcy A. Reed
  • Tait D. Shanafelt
  • Colin P. West
Original Article



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-being resident empathy faculty clinical teaching clinician-educator 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Beckman
    • 1
  • Darcy A. Reed
    • 2
  • Tait D. Shanafelt
    • 3
  • Colin P. West
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Division of Primary Care Internal MedicineMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of HematologyMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Division of Biomedical Statistics and InformaticsMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA

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