Lydia Markoff tipped me off to a lawsuit that’s brewing in the world of medical education over the way that the residency matching process takes place. The issue is that residency positions are mostly filled in a match, in which there is no room for negotiation about wages or hours; in all the coverage I’ve read, it seems that most of the residents who were interviewed hate their equivalent hourly wage. My perspective is this: residency is part of my education, and I consider myself lucky that they’re paying me anything. Bitching and whining about how it all plays out is biting the hand that feeds you.


I am against the match, as a physician about to finish residency, I find that we have little to no influence on our hours or payment. This is indeed an outdated system, and the remnant of an era when workers had little to no rights. There have been rules set down in every other profession ie truckdrivers and air traffic controllers regarding workhours. A truck driver cannot drive more than 8 hours, but a surgeon can operate after 20 hours on call. Does this make sense??? Without the match, programs would be forced to change or risk losing good applicants. This is the way it should be.

• Posted by: nj on Feb 27, 2004, 2:51 PM

That’s unfortunate, because it flies in the face of a few big facts, like that there was horrible exploitation BEFORE the match came into being, and it was medical students that were one of the driving forces in the institution of the match to make things right. Personally, I can’t imagine a system where I interview somewhere for training and am forced to, on the spot, make a decision about whether I’d be willing to go there or look at other programs first; that’s what happened before the match.

Also an interesting point about work hours… how does the match make one bit of difference in work hours? There are a lot of other issues inherent in that debate — like training vs. working, education vs. employment, and the like — but I can’t see how a match system makes it any more likely that you have to work more. Maybe myopic.

Again, I feel that residency was pretty clearly part of my education, not a job. Now that I’m nearly a year out of it, and have the perspective back on those three years, I can still say that it’s not like any other job; instead, it’s a great mix of part-work, part-learning. I’m glad that, in this current world of medicine, there’s any money in it for me to work and learn at the same time; push hard enough, and you’ll learn just how little money there is in the system, and just how many training positions are cut as a result.

• Posted by: Jason on Feb 27, 2004, 6:32 PM
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