Traditionally, the chief resident plays one of the most critical roles in the well-being of the resident community. To that end, the chief resident often becomes responsible for much of what happens in her residency program. Unfortunately, in most programs, however, there is no playbook. And for most, the new chief residents learn their role in a “trial by fire.” Since most chiefs do not arrive as experts in this new role, they make many errors (To be expected!) So, what are the most significant blunders you can make throughout your tenure if you catch yourself in a position as a chief resident? I thought maybe we could all learn from others’ mistakes!
Make Different Promises To Residents And Staff
Before starting, many chief residents commonly will tell their classmates one thing only to realize later that the staff will not accept the change. For instance, when scheduling, a new chief may promise everyone that they will have a night float for only ten days. But, when they sit down and create the schedule, he discovers it is impossible. Now, he puts himself in a bad situation. The residents’ expectations differ from reality, and all the residents become upset. Politics is everything! So, be careful what you say!
Set Bad Examples
Unfortunately, as chief resident, you are constantly under scrutiny. What is the easiest way to lose the respect of the residents and administration? Set a bad example for the rest of your residents. Everything you do serves as a model for everyone else. If you don’t show up, who will? Who else will do the same if you decide not to step in when a resident struggles? Once a chief resident does not fulfill the role of a good leader, the rest of the residents will follow suit.
Create The Schedule And Give Yourself The Most Benefits
Chief residents typically play an essential role in scheduling. Therefore, if the program selects you as a chief resident, you will wield a lot of power over giving yourself the best shifts at the expense of others. If you want to piss off your classmates, take those times everyone else wants or vacation on the best months. That will go over well!
Poor Follow Through
Trust can be complicated to establish in any profession. But, as a chief resident, your word is your bond. Perhaps, you do not follow through on reprimanding a resident because they made a mess in a call room and did not clean up. Or, you let a resident off the hook even though they continue to skip out on noon conferences. If you don’t follow through, you lose the respect of your fellow residents and faculty. So, if you promise, make sure you deliver.
One of the worst feelings in any job- is to feel left out! So, you need to be even-handed and fair. Invite only half your class to a house party. Or, instigate your fellow residents to hate a fellow resident because you don’t like them. These are surefire ways to reduce your chief resident position to rubble!
If you want to have others question your capabilities as chief, what is the simplest way? Here are some possibilities: Don’t read; Perform poorly on quizzes; Or fail your core exam. Once you establish yourself as a chief resident that cannot pass the rigors of a radiology residency, should you be a chief resident?
Poor Attendance After Passing Boards
As a chief resident, you wield a lot of power. But absolute power can corrupt absolutely. Just because you have taken and passed your boards does not give you the right to skip out on conferences or take unscheduled time off. In the end, you are still a resident. So, don’t abuse your status. It can bite you if you ever decide to get a recommendation!
Unwillingness To Help Out Faculty
Since you are stuck between the faculty and residents as a chief resident, your role becomes to appease residents and the faculty. So, what does this mean for you? Make sure to follow at least some of the reasonable demands of the faculty, or else you will fast lose respect. It could be as simple as asking residents to participate in a department-wide research project or ensuring all residents take a resident survey. Neglecting the faculty’s demands can upset your superiors and make your chief resident year miserable!
Inappropriate Relationships Within Class Or Faculty
Nowadays, with the “#metoo” movement, you must watch out for your actions. Beware what you say and how you say it. Other residents and attendings can interpret subtle cues as harassment. So, if you want to ruin your chief resident year and possibly your career, follow the rules!
Final Thoughts About The Chief Resident
As chief resident, you play a significant role in running a residency. And, because a proper leadership position such as chief resident is a new experience for most, I can guarantee you will make some mistakes. Therefore, more than others in the residency program, you need to act like a leader without taking advantage of your colleagues and faculty at their expense. Think of this year as a political learning experience. So, heed these ten warnings of what not to do as a chief resident. If you can avoid these mistakes, you will miss most leadership pitfalls. Like becoming an excellent chief resident, learning to perform a leadership role well will be handy for the rest of your career!