Sense of Belonging and Professional Identity Among Combined Pediatrics-Anesthesiology Residents



      Combined pediatrics-anesthesiology programs uniquely prepare residents to care for critically ill children, but trainees in these combined programs face challenges as residents within two specialties. Social belonging predicts motivation and achievement and protects against burnout. The objective of our study was to evaluate sense of belonging and self-identified professional identity of current combined pediatrics-anesthesiology residents.


      All current residents in combined pediatrics-anesthesiology programs were invited to participate in an anonymous survey assessing sense of belonging and professional identity. Open-ended responses were qualitatively analyzed using an inductive coding process and thematic analysis. Likert questions were analyzed using paired t-tests.


      32/36 residents completed the survey (89% response rate). 92% of respondents had a lower sense of belonging in pediatrics than anesthesiology (3.32 vs 3.94) and more self-identified as anesthesiologists than pediatricians. Thematic analysis yielded five themes: (1) the team-based nature of pediatrics results in strong initial bonds, but feelings of isolation as training pathways diverge; (2) the individual nature of anesthesiology results in less social interaction within daily work, but easier transitions in and out of anesthesiology; (3) divergent training timelines result in feeling left behind socially and academically; (4) residents identify different professional and personal characteristics of pediatricians and anesthesiologists that impact their sense of belonging; and (5) the structure of the combined program results in experiences unique to combined residents.


      Most residents in combined pediatrics-anesthesiology programs had a higher sense of belonging and self-identification in anesthesiology than pediatrics. Program structure and autonomy had significant impacts.


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