To evaluate whether the negative emotions and attitudes that residents develop during internship continue throughout the remaining years of their residency, the authors undertook a four-year prospective study of two classes of internal medicine residents who completed their training in 1985 and 1986 in a residency program based at the Oregon Health Sciences University. Every two to three months over all three years of training, the residents indicated on Likert-type scales their levels of agreement with questions about their career satisfaction and emotional states, and the satisfying and dissatisfying aspects of their residency experiences. Between the internship and the end of their residencies, the physicians indicated significant improvements in their emotions and attitudes. Those experiences identified as satisfying continued to be so, whereas those considered dissatisfying became less so. Although more research of other classes of residents is needed, the findings suggest that while internal medicine internships may be dysphoric, the residents’ emotional states and attitudes tend to normalize during the remainder of the residency.
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