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Acad Med. 2004 May;79(5):447-52.

Residency is not a race: our ten-year experience with a flexible schedule residency training option.

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Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, 94143-0110, USA.



To evaluate the Flexible Option (FO), a residency training schedule offered by the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Residency Program.


In 2002, structured telephone interviews were conducted with residents who participated in the FO between 1992 and 2002. Twenty-four of the 284 pediatrics residents during this time participated in the FO. Descriptive interview data were analyzed. A Web-based questionnaire was sent to 72 regularly scheduled (RS) residents at the end of 2001-02. FO and RS residents' specialty board performances were compared.


Twenty-one FO residents participated in the telephone interviews. The majority reported that the FO was critical to their success as residents. Most requested the FO for personal and family reasons; over 40% would otherwise have requested leaves from the residency. The most common perceived disadvantages were delay in graduation and financial concerns. Forty-two RS residents completed the online questionnaire. Seventeen percent considered the FO an important factor in program selection; 43% had considered participating in the FO. Seventy-nine percent felt that the FO had a positive effect on the general morale of the program. RS residents perceived that the FO increased workload (43%) and created scheduling problems (52%). However, 88% of RS residents encouraged the program to continue offering the FO. Specialty board scores were similar across FO and RS residents.


Participants perceived that the FO's advantages outweighed the disadvantages. There were no concerning academic disadvantages identified in FO participants. Wide-spread support was found throughout the residency program to sustain the FO. More residency programs should consider creating and offering flexible scheduling options.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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