I have had the good fortune to have been invited on a number of occasions to serve as visiting professor, honoring graduating orthopedic residents at their year-end festivities. I continue to remain impressed with the enthusiasm, fund of knowledge, and motivations, not only of the graduating seniors I meet, but even more so, their younger colleagues. Whatever the program, be it small community hospitals or larger "prestige" centers, residents are generally eager to both challenge the visiting "prof" as well as demonstrate their fund of knowledge in my own areas of specialization.
While occasionally the topics of work hours or increased regulations come up, I rarely hear supportive comments. Rather, I am often surprised how almost wistful many of the residents appear when I relate to them my own residency training from 1975 to 1979, which culminated in my running a busy trauma and elective service as a board-eligible "chief resident" for 6 months before my fellowship. Being the attending of record responsible for hundreds of patients was a challenge-but a remarkable one-and certainly maturing as a surgeon. I would venture to say that more than a few of the residents I meet would trade places-even those we characterize as the X, Y, or millenium generations-with their different "work ethic."
I tend to hear more "griping" regarding resident work hours and their effect on training from their faculty with a common theme being "Are we training our residents adequately? After all, at some point, they will be taking care of us." Just attend any national meeting or read one of our peer-reviewed journals to realize how much is discussed regarding these subjects and whether our residents are overworked, underchallenged, or happy.
Frankly, after meeting so many orthopedic residents both through my own program as well as through travels and professorships-I would not be concerned at all. Rather, I wonder if we as teachers and faculty should relax and be thankful that our nation still produces such outstanding individuals and that they wish to become our colleagues.
Jesse Jupiter, MD
Director, Orthopaedic Hand Service
Massachussets General Hospital
Hansjorg Wyss/AO Professor
Harvard Medical School