Friday, August 7, 2015

Defining and Fostering Self-Directed Learning in Pediatric Residency: The Perspective Of Pediatric Program Directors

Claire Ganal, MD, MEd
Naval Health Center New England

Self-directed learning is an important skill for pediatric residents to master during training. This work aims to clarify the definition of a self-directed learner in pediatric residency and to describe the ways in which pediatric Program Directors foster and assess for this ability. During this qualitative study, eight pediatric Program Directors were interviewed. The semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes using an iterative process. Five themes were identified: how pediatric Program Directors define the term, self-directed learner; how pediatric Program Directors try to make the concept of self-directed learning more relevant to trainees; how residency leaders encourage residents to take responsibility for their education; how self-directed learning is more successful when not approached as a solitary endeavor; and how success with self-directed learning may depend on the underlying ability of trainees. Program Directors helped to solidify a routine definition for the self-directed learner. They also offered insight about how to introduce this concept to trainees, encourage collective efforts to achieve the best outcome, and recognize that learners have varying self-directed learning abilities.