Consider it both an honor and a privilege to be the advocate for your fellow residents. You will learn more this year about administration, your fellow residents, and yourself then you could imagine.
Some of the skills you learn as a Chief resident will help you later in your career. As painful as this process may be, you would not be able to learn these things unless you were Chief.
You were selected to be a chief resident by your department Chair, program director, fellow residents, or a combination of the three. They knew you had the academic and clinical potential to be able to also handle being chief resident.
Even Chief Residents have to study for the boards
You are expected to do well on your ITE and on your Advanced exam. However, with the increased administrative workload, you might not have the time to study that you would have if you were not chief. Usually Chiefs are chosen from a group of residents who are on a trajectory to pass the Advanced Exam.
This is not a given.
You have to make a conscious effort to continue your preparation for board certification. It is easy to let the job of Chief Resident overshadow your role as a resident.
A Cautionary Tale
I neglected my studying for my CA-3 ITE because of the administrative work load that I had my Chief year. This put my studying behind and I also missed out on a scholarship from my department. (At the time, if you had a passing exam on the ITE your senior year, then the department would pay for the written exam.) Many of my classmates received the scholarship, but I did not.
Three Rules to Help You Do Well Academically Your Chief Year
Your department might not have a scholarship. (Mine does not any more.) Even without a scholarship, you will want to do your best on the ITE, because it will help you prepare for the Advanced exam.
There are three rules you an do to help yourself get ready for the CA-3 ITE and Advanced exams.
1. You have to look out for yourself
Most Anesthesiology Chief Residents are in charge of the rotation schedule, vacation schedule, and the various other things that come up during raining. (On top of being a full time resident.) You will have to manage yourself along with the other fellows.
There will be plenty of opportunity for you to adjust the rotation schedule or call schedule. While you are looking out for your fellow residents, no one will be looking out for you. You are the best one to take care of yourself.
You have to look out for yourself, including your academic, clinical, and home life. Do not expect your program director or chair to look out for your academic pursuits. Make sure you do that yourself. If you are able to give yourself an easier rotation around the time of the exam, make it happen.
Don’t abuse your power, but also don’t “fall on your sword” and “take one for the team”. It can be a difficult line to walk.
2. Build some protected study time in your schedule
Even if you have built a reasonable schedule for yourself, you will need to organize your time to spend time to study. Having some time to study and no clear plan is a recipe for failure.
Schedule your time to study, just like you would a meeting. This will help you keep to the study schedule. If you don’t build this time, your time will be used for other things. If you are able to have some non-clinical time, then use some of it to study for your exams. Yes, other residents do not get this, but they are also not on call 24/7 dealing with resident/residency issues.
3. Build a study plan
Make the most of the time you have to study — build out a study plan.
Your study time will be harder to come by as a chief resident. Study the “right” things so that you can be effective with the time you have. You know that the next ITE will be in February of your CA-3 year and the Advanced exam is soon to follow. So build out a plan to get through the material you need to cover before the deadline.
Put These Three Rules to Work
It is probably a good thing you don’t fully understand the demands of the job until after you started working as a Chief resident. I would often discuss with my co-chief that if we were smarter, we might not have accepted the job.
Putting these rules to work is not about being weak, its about being smart.
If you also want to read an excellent book on leadership, I suggest Sun Tzu’s Art of War. The book in the link was invaluable for me my chief year. It has the Art of War, but then the book helps you apply what you learned to your situation.
Check out some other articles that you might find helpful for your board preparation
Looking for some resources to help you study?