Developing a model describing voluntary residency attrition: a qualitative study

Astrid J. de Vries*, Yvonne ten Hoeve*, Debbie A.D.C. Jaarsma, Jan Pols, Jos J.A.M. van Raay

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    24 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Many factors influencing residency attrition are identified in the literature, but what role these factors play and how they influence each other remains unclear. Understanding more about the interaction between these factors can provide background to put the available evidence into perspective and provide tools to reduce attrition. The aim of this study was therefore to develop a model that describes voluntary residency attrition.

    Methods: Semi-structured interviews were held with a convenient sample of orthopaedic surgery residents in the Netherlands who dropped out of training between 2000 and 2018. Transcripts were analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach. Concepts and themes were identified by iterative constant comparison.

    Results: Seventeen interviews with former residents were analysed and showed that reasons for voluntary attrition were different for each individual and often a result of a cumulative effect. Individual expectations and needs determine residents’ experiences with the content of the profession, the professional culture and the learning climate. Personal factors like previous clinical experiences, personal circumstances and personal characteristics influence expectations and needs. Specific aspects of the residency programme contributing to attrition were type of patient care, required skills for the profession, work-life balance and interpersonal interaction.

    Conclusions: This study provides a model for voluntary resident attrition showing the factors involved and how they interact. This model places previous research into perspective, gives implications for practice on the (im)possibilities of preventing attrition and opens possibilities for further research into resident attrition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number221
    Number of pages11
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2024


    • Attrition
    • Grounded theory
    • Model development
    • Postgraduate medical education


    Dive into the research topics of 'Developing a model describing voluntary residency attrition: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this