Today marks my husband’s last day of residency. As he walks out of his last call shift, he says a bittersweet farewell to not only his on call pager (the sound of which will likely trigger a nervous twitch for many years to come) – but to an army of mentors and a group of colleagues bonded through three years of work with little sleep.
The topic of residency has been no stranger to controversy over the years. As I have discussed in previous blog posts, much debate has been had over physician duty hours, increased work load, and less time to spend with a patient. Some have called for a complete redesigning of residency programs due to the predicted physician shortfall in the year 2015. To this end, healthcare providers featured in The Wall Street Journal suggested fixes ranging from increasing nurse autonomy to more federal funding for doctors in training. This year, Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) introduced The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013 to the House of Representatives. The bill would increase the number of Medicare-funded residencies by 15,000 at a rate of 3,000 per year between 2015 and 2019. While the majority of medical residencies are funded by Medicare; Medicare-funded residency positions have been frozen since 1997. Obviously, fewer resident positions mean that some who graduate from medical school will not find a residency after graduation.
The debate over residency programs will undoubtedly rage on. I for one, am glad that this chapter has been closed – that is unless my husband, in his never-ending thirst for knowledge, decides to pursue a fellowship. Stay tuned.