Chief Resident as Manager and Leader
Rob Melendez, MD, MBA
“As a chief resident, your main role is as a manager with opportunities to display leadership.”
Chief Resident as Manager Skill Set: Reacts to Change
Chief Resident as Leader Skill Set: Creates Change
What are the differences between a Manager and a Leader? The goal of this article is to identify when we are displaying each trait and how we can become better leaders and managers. Managers tend to react to change more than leaders do. Managers are those who respond to a resident calling in sick and make the necessary scheduling changes. The manager chief resident reacts to a disgruntled fellow resident because of their lack of free time or not enough vacation time. The Leader Chief Resident creates change in the program that serves future residents.
As a chief resident, you will be performing more managerial tasks than leadership tasks. Your goal this year is to begin creating change rather than simply reacting to it. Identify the problems that occurred the year before and create action plans to solve them for this year.
Issue: Resident is pregnant, and needs 8 weeks off for maternity leave. What are the implications of this decision? More on-call times for the other residents, more grand round presentations? Instead of simply reacting to this scenario, create an action plan for future years. This is demonstrating leadership and vision. Often times, as leaders, we are called to look beyond just our own needs and try to improve the overall process that will have lasting benefits in your program far after you have already left. Identify scenarios similar to this that have the potential to occur in your chief year and create a plan. Creating a plan for a resident who needs time off for maternity leave or for a male resident who requests paternity leave will help guide your decisions when it actually happens. Involve as many people as you can to help solve this issue.Just because you are chief resident, it doesn’t mean you will have all of the answers. Involve others to help solve problems and to better understand their perspectives. Creating a policy at the beginning of the year will help minimize confusion as to what is expected from the resident requesting time off. As chief resident, try to maintain fairness with this process. Most residents are understanding, but try to provide something extra for the residents that might have to work extra harder during this time off for one of the fellow residents. Ask your program director to sponsor a Friday lunch or a fun activity on one evening to reward the residents’ hard work.