Do You Really Want To Go To A “University” Program?
During medical school, commonly, students talk about their goals to get into a “University” program. Moreover, faculty often recommend that residents should receive “University” based training.
But, what does being a “University” program mean? And, how does that compare to a University affiliate or a residency with no University affiliation at all? You may be surprised to learn that there is significant variability in the definition of a “University” program. Also, the “University” training you receive or the residency where you want to enroll may have more features in common with a “Community” program than any other “University” program out there.
So, to figure out what all this nomenclature means, I have lined up some of the features of what you would expect University programs to contain. And, you can decide for yourself if your program of interest is more “Community,” “University,” or somewhere in between.
You would expect University programs to have large endowments, kind of like what you always hear about Harvard. But in reality, many “University” programs have very few grants or any extra money to spare at all. So, resources can vary widely among institutions. What does your residency receive from the University serving your residency?
Number Of Faculty
Once again, you would expect most University programs to have more faculty, right? Well, that number can vary widely between University and Community programs. Contrary to popular belief, many non-University institutions can have more faculty than their University brethren. Though, they may not have the University reputation that precedes them.
Offhand on my mental radar, I can think of one enormous non-University system in California called Kaiser Permanente, the largest health care employer in the state. And, until 2020, it will not have had an affiliated medical school to go along with it. It has more radiologists than any other system in the state.
Along with the faculty numbers, more subspecialists in a given area does not reflect whether an institution is community or University. It is more of a reflection of the size of the program. Go figure!
Support For Research/ Statisticians
As an overall trend, residencies home based in a University tend to have more support for research. However, you will find that some large scale Community programs also may excellent support for research at their institution. Don’t assume just because you attend a University program; you have more chances to participate in studies.
More Stringent Curriculum Requirements
Every institution has program curriculum requirements as mandated by the ACGME. However, you would think that a University program would hold to these standards more stringently than a Community program. Well, that is not so. It all depends on who manages the program and the teaching faculty.
Medical Students/Opportunities To Teach
Some University residencies are so extensive that radiology residents may seldom come across a medical student anywhere. On the other hand, many community hospitals have contracts with non-affiliated medical schools to house residents in their institution. Once again, being a University program does not necessarily afford any additional special
Let The Buyer Beware
Tread carefully when you assume that a University-based residency will meet all your expectations for your residency training. Not all University-based programs are the same. Some will have unlimited resources, enormous numbers of subspecialists and faculty, tons of funds for research, a well-formed curriculum, and lots of medical students to teach. But, others may not have one or more of these features. In a world of numerous residency choices, make your checklists to confirm that the “University” or “Community” program that you want meets your specific needs. Don’t rely on a name!