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What They Don't Tell You About Residency Programs

posted Jul 15, 2015, 9:10 AM by Explore More   [ updated Jul 15, 2015, 9:10 AM ]
So you’ve survived the residency interview dinner, aced the interview, charmed the program director at lunch and taken the hospital tour. Now you’re ready to talk about the residency program and benefits.

While program directors will tell you a lot of useful information that will help you decide, here are some particulars that they will likely never discuss but will greatly affect your ability to function during residency.

For this type of information, seek out other sources like residents or nurses who work in the hospital.

  • Exact Number of Hours: Program directors will give you a copy of basic training standards, but most will not be able to tell how many hours per week are generally required to fulfill the standards overall. 

  • Lack of free time:  Every residency is different regarding how much free time is available. In general, there won’t be much, but some residents find time for hobbies and other pursuits. Program directors aren’t able to advise you on this subject because residents’ time management skills largely determine how much free time they have.

  • Negatives: Program directors won’t tell you how current residents get along with each other, especially if there’s friction, or if residents have a problem with an attending. Another aspect they will keep under wraps is whether the residency site is at the risk of closure.

  • Emotional Exhaustion: You will be dealing with patients’ emotional problems, not just physical ones, on a regular basis. You think because you’re smart, you’ll be OK, but dealing with emotional issues on a regular basis can take its toll, and many residents aren’t prepared for that.

  • Intellectual Exhaustion:  While constantly coming up with solutions to cure patients will solidify your clinical knowledge and professional development, it can burn you out. Program directors will probably not bring up how other residents have handled this.

  • Cafeteria Food: It may seem like a petty consideration, but the quality of the hospital cafeteria food can affect your residency, especially if the food is really bad. You’ll be at the hospital most of the time, and you probably won’t have the inclination to even go across the street for a bite. Instead you’ll turn to the hospital cafeteria for many of your meals.