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Original research
Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on doctors’ core workplace needs: a qualitative study of internal medicine trainees in Scotland
  1. Joanne Kerins1,2,
  2. Ailsa Lauren Hamilton3,
  3. Jemma Pringle4,
  4. Fiona Farquhar5,
  5. Victoria Ruth Tallentire1,3,4
  1. 1Scottish Centre for Simulation and Clinical Human Factors, Larbert, UK
  2. 2Acute medicine, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4NHS Education for Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5Acute medicine, NHS Lanarkshire, Bothwell, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanne Kerins; joanne.kerins{at}ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Abstract

Objectives This study aimed to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the workplace core needs of internal medicine (IM) trainees in Scotland.

Design This qualitative study used an observational approach of interprofessional workshops combined with subsequent individual interviews with IM trainees. Workshops and interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed utilising NVivo software. Template analysis was used with the Autonomy/control, Belonging and Competence (ABC) of doctors’ core needs outlined in the 2019 General Medical Council report Caring for doctors, caring for patients as a conceptual lens for the study.

Setting The national IM boot camp in Scotland includes a 2-hour interprofessional workshop which is trainee led and explores current challenges in the workplace, including the impact of the pandemic on such relationships.

Participants Twelve workshops, involving 72 trainees, were included with ten trainees taking part in the subsequent interview process. Trainees representing all four regions in Scotland were involved.

Results Trainees described all core needs having been impacted by the pandemic. They described a loss of autonomy with emergency rotas but also through a pervasive sense of uncertainty. The data revealed that work conditions improved initially with additional resources which have since been removed in some areas, affecting trainees’ sense of value. Analysis found that belonging was affected positively in terms of increased camaraderie but also challenged through inability to socialise. There were concerns regarding developing competence due to a lack of teaching opportunities.

Conclusions Using the ABC of doctor’s core needs as a conceptual framework for this study highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all domains for IM trainees in Scotland. It has highlighted an opportunity to foster the renewed sense of camaraderie among healthcare teams, while rebuilding work conditions to support autonomy and competence.

  • COVID-19
  • internal medicine
  • qualitative research
  • medical education & training

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Raw transcripts of the data analysed in the study are available from the lead author.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Raw transcripts of the data analysed in the study are available from the lead author.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @JoanneKerins

  • Contributors JK the conception and the design of the study, data collection, analysis and interpretation of the data and the drafting and the revision of the manuscript. ALH and VRT contributed to the conception and design of the study, the analysis and interpretation of the data and the drafting and the revision of the paper. JP and FF contributed to the conception and the design of the study, data collection and revision of the paper. All authors (JK, ALH, JP, FF and VRT) approved the final manuscript for publication and have agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This work was supported by a small grant award from the Scottish Medical Education Research Consortium (SMERC) for which we are extremely grateful.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.