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Physicians as Teachers and Lifelong Learners
Lifelong learning requires sustained motivation for learning. Employing a motivational theory framework, we investigated the relationships of psychological need satisfaction, clinical teaching involvement, and lifelong learning of physicians at different career stages and in various medical specialties. We also examined the associations of physician lifelong learning with stress, burnout, teaching enjoyment, and life satisfaction, all of which are essential for physician well-being and, ultimately, for the provision of quality patient care.
This was a cross-sectional study. Using survey methodology, quantitative data were collected from 202 practicing physicians in Canada. The questionnaire contained validated scales of physician lifelong learning and psychological need satisfaction, measures of clinical teaching (involvement and enjoyment), stress level, burnout frequency, and life satisfaction. Analysis of covariance and correlational analysis were performed.
On average, participants reported moderate to moderately high levels of lifelong learning, psychological need satisfaction, teaching enjoyment, and life satisfaction. Irrespective of career stage and specialty, physicians' psychological need satisfaction and involvement in clinical teaching were significant in relation to lifelong learning. That is, physicians who experienced greater psychological need satisfaction at work and those who were involved in clinical teaching had, on average, higher lifelong learning scores. Physician lifelong learning had significant associations with life satisfaction and teaching enjoyment but not with stress level and burnout frequency.
Fulfilling physicians' basic psychological needs at work and supporting them in their teaching roles is likely to enhance physician lifelong learning and, ultimately, quality of patient care.
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