Objective: Psychological stress has been shown to influence learning and performance among medical and graduate students. Few studies have examined psychological stress in chiropractic students and interns. This preliminary study explored interns’ perceptions around stress and confidence at the midpoint of professional training.
Methods: This pilot study used a mixed-methods approach, combining rating scales and modified qualitative methods, to explore interns’ lived experience. Eighty-eight interns provided ratings of stress and confidence and narrative responses to broad questions.
Results: Participants reported multiple sources of stress; stress and confidence ratings were inversely related. Interns described stress as forced priorities, inadequate time, and perceptions of weak performance. Two themes, ‘‘convey respect’’ and ‘‘guide real-world learning,’’ describe faculty actions that minimized stress and promoted confidence.
Conclusion: Chiropractic interns experience varying degrees of stress, which is managed with diverse strategies. The development of confidence appears to be influenced by the consistency and manner in which feedback is provided. Although faculty cannot control the amount or sources of stress, awareness of interns’ perceptions can strengthen our effectiveness as educators.
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