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Postgrad Med J. 2020 Mar 6. pii: postgradmedj-2019-137076. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2019-137076. [Epub ahead of print]

Challenges to well-being for general practice trainee doctors: a qualitative study of their experiences and coping strategies.

Author information

1
Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education School of Primary Care, Health Education England South West, Plymouth, UK.
2
Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK.
3
Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK marie.bryce@plymouth.ac.uk.

Abstract

PURPOSES OF THE STUDY:

To identify the challenges to well-being experienced by general practice postgraduate trainees and to explore how the trainees respond to those challenges.

STUDY DESIGN:

Qualitative focus group study with doctors in their final year of general practice training (n=16). The participants in the study were recruited from one training scheme in South West England. Data were thematically analysed.

RESULTS:

Participants reported challenges to well-being relating to dysfunctional relationships with colleagues and patients, their workload, a perceived lack of support at work and also physical environmental challenges. They identified response strategies focused on cognitive processing, physical self-care, focusing on their professional purpose, building supportive relationships and adapting their working environment where possible. Additionally, there were factors that could support trainee well-being, including personal factors such as adaptability and self-awareness, but also external and organisational factors, such as culture, supportive colleagues and organisational adaptability in relation to workload management. The importance to trainees of the idea of being a 'good doctor' arose repeatedly in the data, as did the importance of the organisational environment. Participants reported finding their training placements in secondary care environments particularly challenging.

CONCLUSION:

This research highlights the strategies that general practice trainees use in response to challenges, but also that the responsibility for maintaining well-being cannot be borne by individuals alone. This study identifies that supportive approaches by healthcare organisations and educators are vitally important to general practitioner trainees' well-being.

KEYWORDS:

medical education & training; primary care

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: SA is an associate postgraduate dean with Health Education England South West. JR is a postgraduate trainee on a General Medical Council-approved training programme in geriatric medicine through Health Education England South West.

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