Residency is not a race: our ten-year experience with a flexible schedule residency training option.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the Flexible Option (FO), a residency training schedule offered by the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Residency Program. METHOD: In 2002, structured telephone interviews were conducted with residents who participated in the FO between 1992 and 2002. Twenty-four of the 284 pediatrics residents during this time participated in the FO. Descriptive interview data were analyzed. A Web-based questionnaire was sent to 72 regularly scheduled (RS) residents at the end of 2001-02. FO and RS residents' specialty board performances were compared. RESULTS: Twenty-one FO residents participated in the telephone interviews. The majority reported that the FO was critical to their success as residents. Most requested the FO for personal and family reasons; over 40% would otherwise have requested leaves from the residency. The most common perceived disadvantages were delay in graduation and financial concerns. Forty-two RS residents completed the online questionnaire. Seventeen percent considered the FO an important factor in program selection; 43% had considered participating in the FO. Seventy-nine percent felt that the FO had a positive effect on the general morale of the program. RS residents perceived that the FO increased workload (43%) and created scheduling problems (52%). However, 88% of RS residents encouraged the program to continue offering the FO. Specialty board scores were similar across FO and RS residents. CONCLUSIONS: Participants perceived that the FO's advantages outweighed the disadvantages. There were no concerning academic disadvantages identified in FO participants. Wide-spread support was found throughout the residency program to sustain the FO. More residency programs should consider creating and offering flexible scheduling options.
Kamei, RK; Chen, HC; Loeser, H
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