Lived Experiences of Mistreatment in a General Surgery Residency

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OBJECTIVE: Explore the lived experiences of General Surgery residents to identify how they perceive, define mistreatment, and which factors can contribute to or mitigate mistreatment within the Clinical Learning Environment. DESIGN: This is a phenomenological study conducted during 2019-2020 using Giorgi's psychological descriptive phenomenology methodology. Researcher bias, trustworthiness, and triangulation were addressed using bracketing, check-ins with program leadership, comparisons to resident survey, and team consensus based on Consensual Qualitative Research. SETTING: General Surgery Residency program at Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio, Texas. PARTICIPANTS: All residents in the general surgery program were invited to participate (n= 66, 43% female and 63% non-Hispanic). Specific demographic and identifying data for each participant was not collected. Approximately 50 (76% of program) residents from General Surgery participated. RESULTS: We were able to identify four themes that helped to delineate the lived experience of residents including program cultural factors, resident internal processing, and perceived effects of mistreatment by the residents. The resulting psychological structure and conceptual framework help clarify the interrelations between the themes and the Clinical Learning Environment. The scenarios discussed were adapted and depersonalized to use as prompts for the Forum Theater intervention. This project set out to explore resident's lived experiences and allow the data to reveal the main outcomes. The data was coded and analyzed following strict guidelines from descriptive psychological phenomenology and Consensual Qualitative Research with the aim of informing a later experiential intervention based on Forum Theater. CONCLUSIONS: The lived experience of general surgery residents helped identify cultural factors and behaviors that contribute to and/or mitigate mistreatment providing information to plan interventions at the resident and faculty level. Mitigating or stopping mistreatment can improve the Clinical Learning Environment and hence, the quality of training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Professionalism training
  • clinical learning environment
  • mistreatment in graduate medical education
  • qualitative research
  • surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


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