A group of UF College of Medicine physicians file into a large conference room at UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. It’s an important day — they are learning how to be successful in their weighty new role as chief resident.
UF College of Medicine chief residents are select leaders chosen within their residency programs. They are a crucial resource for residents and work with program directors to enhance program effectiveness. In addition to their daily clinical care responsibilities, chief residents assist with recruitment efforts, enhance staff morale, manage interpersonal conflicts, schedule rotations and more.
“For most chief residents, this is their first official leadership role,” saidLisa Dixon, M.D., UF College of Medicine associate dean and the designated institutional official for graduate medical education. “They already have a level of respect and are natural leaders, but when their title changes it’s different — their responsibilities increase significantly and they have to conform to a new relationship with their peers.”
The UF College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Housestaff Affairs Office is a crucial resource for these new chief residents. Before chief residents begin their new role, the housestaff affairs team hosts a half-day program to equip them with skills to handle difficult situations. Chief residents from different disciplines meet, discuss goals, share excitement and express concerns.
“We have an honest conversation about what they’re tasked with for their new role: the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Cristin Owens, UF College of Medicine graduate medical education assistant director. “We talk a lot about coaching, influencing, human resource procedures and how to empower people — it’s information that’s not really taught in medicine, and we want to fix that.”
Christopher Ong, M.D., UF College of Medicine department of psychiatry chief resident, is one of 43 chief residents in the College of Medicine. He recalls first learning about his role and feeling incredulous.
“I thought it was interesting, but also kind of insane,” said Ong. “You really have to take it seriously and weigh whether it’s right for you, because you’re responsible for things that really impact the program. There are a lot of late nights and after-hours work.”
The Housestaff Affairs department provides day-to-day support, manages complaints, offers free counseling and ensures housestaff have a successful experience. Staff members also host team-building activities and social events to connect the chiefs.
“Life happens even within residency,” Ong said. “Whether it’s figuring out the best way to accommodate a resident with disabilities or just being there when we’re stressed out, the office makes sure we’re aware of the resources available.”