BACKGROUND: Attention for the well-being of medical school faculty is not only important for the prevention of attrition and burnout, but may also boost performance in their tasks in medical education. Positive well-being can be conceptualized as work engagement and this is associated with increased performance. In this study we explore how demands and resources from different tasks affect work engagement specifically for education.
METHODS: Between June and September 2013, we conducted a multisite semi-structured interview study with a diverse group of medical school faculty and used an open-coding strategy within the Work Engagement Model on the transcribed interviews.
RESULTS: We interviewed 16 faculty members whose teaching experience ranged from 7 to 38 years and whose professional tasks ranged from being solely an educator to being a physician, researcher, educator and administrator simultaneously. All participants were clear on the perceived demands and resources, although similar aspects of the work environment could be perceived oppositely between participants. Overarching themes were perceptions related to the organization or department, often described as a general and long-term effect and perceptions directly related to a task, often described as a direct and short-term effect on well-being. Furthermore, the demands and resources as resultant of fulfilling multiple tasks were described clearly by participants.
CONCLUSIONS: The ambiguous nature of the work environment in terms of demands and resources requires an individualized approach to supporting work engagement. Furthermore, faculty members perceive many resources from fulfilling multiple tasks in relation to their tasks in education. Faculty developers and administrators alike could use these findings to apply the concept of work engagement to their daily support of faculty in medical education.