OBJECTIVES: To explore the characteristics of and factors associated with personal growth during residency training. METHODS: In 2003, 359 house officers on 7 internal medicine residency training programmes in the USA were surveyed about their training experiences and issues related to their personal growth. Factor analysis and internal reliability testing were used to develop a 'personal growth scale'. Logistic regression models were then used to identify independent associations between individual variables and 'high' versus 'low' personal growth scores. RESULTS: A total of 281 house officers (80%) responded. The personal growth scale had a Cronbach's alpha of 0.81. Factors that were independently associated with achieving high amounts of personal growth during residency training included: agreeing that reflection is important during residency training (odds ratio [OR] 2.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1-7.4); being male (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.4-4.5); being non-white (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.3-3.9); having a strong desire to develop personally and professionally (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1-4.1), and feeling highly supported by one's programme director (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.2-3.9). Independent predictors of scoring below the median on the personal growth scale included feeling emotionally isolated at work (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.7) and noting that negative or disappointing experiences had been powerful (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.9). CONCLUSIONS: Disparate amounts of personal growth occur among trainees during residency training. Residency programmes interested in promoting personal growth among their trainees may wish to focus on modifiable factors that are associated with personal growth, such as fostering supportive relationships and encouraging reflection.
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