Bridge Builders: A Qualitative Study of Fellows' Successful Supervision of Residents

Laura Chiel*, Zachary Winthrop, Kathleen Huth, Caroline J. Gross, Amanda Gomez, Carolyn H. Marcus, Ariel S. Winn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose Clinical fellows, those training to become subspecialists in a program certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, supervise residents on inpatient subspecialty rotations. Unlike for supervising residents or for faculty, there is a paucity of literature describing fellows' supervision of residents. The aim of this study was to understand residents' and fellows' perception of successful supervision of residents by fellows on inpatient subspecialty rotations to inform the development of curricula to support fellows as supervisors. Method Using grounded theory methodology, the authors held focus groups in May 2020 of pediatric residents and pediatric subspecialty fellows at Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Focus groups were conducted until thematic saturation was achieved. Deidentified transcripts were independently coded by 2 authors. The author team consolidated the codes into themes and developed an interpretive model for fellows' successful supervision of residents. Key results were confirmed via member checking. Results The authors conducted 4 resident focus groups, composed of 16 pediatric residents, and 4 fellow focus groups, composed of 13 pediatric subspecialty fellows. Participants perceived that fellows who provided successful resident supervision advanced residents' professional growth and supported residents' development along 5 "bridges": (1) generalist to subspecialist, (2) trainee to autonomous practitioner, (3) individual to member of the interprofessional team, (4) emerging physician to patient-facing care provider, and (5) newcomer to engaged clinical learner. Fellows can further residents' growth in these areas by demonstrating approachability, empathy, appreciation, and kindness. Conclusions As newcomers on inpatient subspecialty rotations, residents engage in legitimate peripheral participation. Fellows who are successful supervisors move residents toward full participation in their profession via the bridge model. The fellow-resident dynamic carries advantages of near-peer learning. Fellows can harness their role, subspecialty knowledge, and familiarity with the training environment to enhance resident supervision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1202
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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