Top Ten Pitfalls Of The Chief Resident Year
Traditionally, the chief resident plays one of the most important 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 at 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 at this new role, they make many errors (To be expected!) So if you catch yourself in a position as a chief resident, what are the biggest blunders that you can make over the course of your tenure? I thought maybe we could all learn from others mistakes!
Make Different Promises To Residents And Staff
Prior to starting, commonly, many chief residents 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 10 days. But, when they sit down and create the schedule, he discovers it is not possible. Now, he puts himself in a bad situation. The expectations of the residents differ from the 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? If you decided not to step in when a resident struggles, who else will do the same? Once a chief resident does not fulfill the role as 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 important role in scheduling. Therefore, if you are selected as a chief resident, you will wield a lot of power over the giving yourself the best shifts at the expense of others. If you want to piss off your classmates, make sure to take the shifts that everyone else wants or vacation time at the best months. That will go over well!
Poor Follow Through
Trust can be very difficult 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- 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? Don’t read. Perform poorly on quizzes. Fail your core exam. Once you establish yourself as a chief resident that cannot pass the rigors of a radiology residency, should you really 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, it 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 not just the residents but the faculty as well. 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 something simple as asking residents to participate in a department-wide research project or to make sure all the 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 need to 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, make sure you follow the rules!
Final Thoughts About The Chief Resident
As chief resident, you play a major role in running a residency. And, because a true 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 of the pitfalls of leadership. Learning how to perform a leadership role well like chief resident will come in handy for the rest of your career!