Personality Styles among Surgical Faculty: Implications for Surgical Education
Wu, Eva M.
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INTRODUCTION: Faculty development efforts must acknowledge learners' perspectives to be effective in improving teaching and learning. An improved understanding of an individuals' own personality traits can allow one to gain insight and adapt to the learner and learning environment. Current literature has proposed a relationship between personality profiles and teaching performance in nonclinical settings, but this correlation has not been fully defined in clinical settings1-4. This study was designed to determine the association between attending surgeons' personality profile and residents' and students' teacher ratings. METHODS: 64 faculty members from UTSW Dept. of Surgery completed a voluntary standardized personality profile as part of a faculty development program: DISC Workplace assessment. DISC includes 4 dimensions: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C)5. As part of the standard trainee evaluation process, residents and medical students complete an anonymous questionnaire, rating and commenting on teaching performance of surgical faculty while on surgical rotations. There was a total of 7,753 evaluations, 6,478 evaluations included comments. Three categories of comments were established: very positive, positive, and not positive. Resident and medical student evaluation of faculty were analyzed and compared with the faculty DISC profiles. A p value of <0.05 was defined as significant. RESULTS: Overall, residents ranked faculty with strongest dimensions of S or C in the highest quartile, while D or I were ranked in the lowest quartile. In contrast, faculty rankings among medical students were not associated with D, I, S or C. Analysis was also performed on a question specifically related to overall teaching effectiveness. Here, both residents and medical students considered faculty high in S to be more effective teachers. Faculty with D or I personality were perceived to be less effective by residents whereas medical students considered C to be less effective. When considering comments, faculty with S were again given the highest comment scores by both groups of trainees. Faculty with D or C were given lowest comments by residents and medical students, respectively. CONCLUSION: Faculty who have higher teaching evaluation scores tended to have a DISC profile that is high in S for both groups of trainees but lower in D or I for residents and C for medical students. Based on these findings, implementation of programs to promote emotional intelligence may allow for increased effectiveness of student and resident education.