At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I have to admit that we attendings frequently talk about our residents critically when they're not around. One common observation is that residents and fellows these days really aren't that into education. Surgeons complain their residents would rather round, or even finish writing patient notes, than enter the operating rooms. IM physicians gripe about residents who are nowhere to be found when an interesting case shows up at 4:00 PM. In fact, the hospital halls are pretty bereft of trainees after 5:00. Where are all the bright, intellectually curious young doctors these days?
A new poll just released by Medscape illustrates this problem. A survey of over 1500 residents asked them what were their biggest challenges during their training. The results are rather disheartening for those who had high hopes for the next generation of physicians.
As you can see, the number one concern that residents feel they are facing is "Work-life balance". By comparison, the reason they are in residency to begin with, "Developing the clinical skills required for the specialty", is down at a woeful fifth place. Really? Are our millenial physicians really such snowflakes? Is the medical field doomed when attaining knowledge lags behind worries about having the time to binge watch Game of Thrones?
In an era when medical information is growing exponentially, shouldn't this next generation be more troubled by whether they can keep up with that deluge of data instead of hoping they can get out in time to meet with their personal trainer?
Let's remember why medical residents are called that in the first place. Back in the day, they practically lived in the hospital for days at the time, thus the title of resident. Taking every third or fourth night call was common practice. Work-life balance was something you only hoped to attain once residency was finished, not striving for during the training itself.
Now we notice that attendings frequently stay at the hospital longer than our residents do. Critical decisions are made when most of the team have already left the building. This is the sad future of medicine. Shift work is being ingrained into the mentalities of our impressionable doctors. The days when the caring physician will stay at the bedside through the night will soon be history as work-life balance takes precedence over patient care.