Residents: Will They Ever Pay Off Medical School Debt?

Carol Peckham


August 05, 2014

In This Article

Do Residents Have Enough Time to Learn?

Thirty-seven percent of residents were very satisfied with the quality of their learning experience, but 45% were only somewhat satisfied and 18% were either neutral or dissatisfied. There has been some evidence that reduced hours mandated by the 2003 and 2011 ACGME regulations have resulted in a reduction in resident education,[19] with one study specifically citing the decreased availability to attend teaching conferences.[24] One resident backed up these findings in a write-in response: "I feel like the new work hours mean we are expected to learn the same amount of information and see the same amount of patients, now just in less time." In a study of surgical residents, more than a quarter found that the time available for learning and education was insufficient.[25] In a recent study of internal medicine trainees, nearly two thirds (64.3%) believed that their time for learning activities was insufficient or minimal.[26] When residents were asked to give their own opinions on how their training compared with that at other institutions, however, 43% thought theirs was superior and 29% felt theirs was equal to others'. This was an informal opinion, based on their perceptions.

Is There Too Much Scut Work?

Sixty-one percent of women and 57% of men felt that there was a reasonable balance of scut work. A quarter of men thought there was too much, compared with 20% of women. Robert Centor, MD, a Medscape advisor, commented in his blog, "Most of the tasks that you label scut work are [those] you will perform your entire career."[27] Another physician observed that the traditional scut work tasks (drawing blood gases, placing IVs), which at least brought residents into contact with patients, are now being replaced by "electronic" scut work -- managing new health record systems -- which only send residents to their cubicles and away from patients.[28]


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