Frequently Asked Questions
Let's face it: the search for the best residency program is challenging. There are a lot of personal factors that play into this professional decision. You can read about and analyze all of the statistics on our program on the FREIDA website, but at the end of the day, you're looking for an excellent program to train you for a long, spectacular career. And of course you want to find a place where there are doctors who love what they do, love working with their colleagues, treat you as one of their own, and still have time at the end of the day to enjoy the many things they value outside of the hospital. We believe this program has all of that, and more.
Q: Are the residents happy?
A: Without a doubt, we think so! Because BBCH serves as a community hospital for Portland and a tertiary referral center for Maine, our residents work hard and become well-trained pediatricians. Our program is small enough that attendings will know your name, but large enough to support active research, busy services, and a variety of pathology. Our residents may work hard, but they have ample opportunity to play hard in the wonderful state of Maine. Our hospital is located in one of the most beautiful small cities in the country, offering unparalleled access to outdoor activities year round and boasting national recognition for the number of restaurants per capita. It is hard to say if it is a byproduct of the city, the program, or the residents themselves, but the residents who train here leave with a solid foundation, good memories, and life-long friends. We invite you to find out for yourself by visiting us for an interview. We design our interview schedules to provide ample time for each applicant to meet with both faculty and residents and arrange for an evening out with some of our residents on the night before your interview.
Q: How do you address resident stress?
A: Being a resident is not easy, but you already knew that. Our program supports a healthy work/life balance so residents can learn to manage stress. Essentials to any stress management program include eating well, sleeping well, exercise, and supportive relationships. And of course our program supports and endorses duty hours legislation, for this too is an important component of monitoring resident stress and fatigue.
At MMC, we have a close-knit group of residents, and we consciously encourage these relationships. Each fall we have an overnight retreat attended by residents and key faculty where we participate in team building and learning activities as well as provide the opportunity for resident bonding away from the hospital. Additionally, our program created a resident wellness committee to help prevent resident burnout and to help organize resident wellness events. Comprised of representatives from each year, the chief resident, and associate program director, Pam Dietz, this committee meets regularly to plan a monthly program-wide wellness event (barbecue, surfing lessons, trampoline park, paint night, etc.)
All residents at MMC have free membership to World Gym, a fitness center located within two miles of campus. There are a number of running trails and biking routes near the hospital. A number of the residents surf at beaches within 20 minutes from campus. In the winter, some of the local farms open their fields to cross-country skiers. Snow shoeing on local hiking trails is also popular. In the summer, a local farm brings fresh produce to the hospital for sale twice a week and a number of residents belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). We know that resident wellness is integral to a strong learning experience and to the best patient care.
Additionally, there is access to department-funded counseling services whenever needed. We also have a strong Faculty Advisor Program (see below).
Q: Do residents have an advisor?
A: Yes! As part of our support system for residents, we have a strong Faculty Advisor Program. At the start of the year, each intern is paired up with an attending physician who serves as a resource for, and advocate of, the resident. As interns develop relationships with other attending physicians and begin to identify more specific career interests, we offer the opportunity for them to select another advisor. Even after identifying a new mentor/advisor, many residents choose to maintain their relationship with their initial advisor, something we are happy support.
Q: How often will I be on call?
A: Applicants to any program are typically interested in the workload and call schedule at the programs to which they apply. As a program, we support and endorse duty hour legislation. We recognize that resident fatigue is real, and the ability for our residents to build work/life balance during residency is important. We have an established night team system in all of our inpatient units.
Here is a review of the general call expectations for a pediatric intern:
There is a night team system both within the inpatient unit and in the NICU. Weekend coverage in the inpatient unit (IPU) is split into day shift from 7:00AM - 5:00PM and night shift from 5:00PM- 7:00AM. Weekend IPU day team coverage consists of one senior resident and two interns who cover the inpatient unit census. There is always a long call intern who works from 7:00AM - 5:00PM. A second intern, the “short call” intern, starts work at 7:00AM and generally stays until 2-3 (this is flexible depending on the census). Night team coverage includes a senior resident and an intern who cover the inpatient unit from 5:00PM - 7:00AM Sunday through Friday. There are also Saturday night team shifts interspersed throughout the academic year for a total of approximately 4 additional intern night shifts.
NICU night team coverage is scheduled in a two-week block typically Thursday through Monday. The shift allows you to work directly with a neonatologist during these overnight shifts. Hours are 5:00PM - 7:00AM. There is no additional weekend coverage required in the NICU when you are not on this rotation.
Q: Where do you work? What is the hospital like?
A: The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital (BBCH) is the primary teaching site for all our residents and medical students. The BBCH is a children's hospital within a hospital at the Maine Medical Center. It enjoys and shares all the support and resources of the larger institution. All of the pediatric subspecialties are represented. Our inpatient unit cares for over 2,500 patients per year, our pediatric clinic sees over 7,500 visits yearly and is the patient-centered medical home for 2,400 patients. Our pediatric emergency department has over 22,000 visits per year, our newborn population exceeds 2,800 deliveries per year, and our NICU cares for 900 patients yearly, of which about ¼ are transferred from outside institutions each year.
As of spring 2016, the BBCH Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is now on the same floor as the BBCH inpatient unit. This new update unit has 8 dedicated beds to care for critically ill children. Residents rotate through the PICU in their second year of training, and cover the PICU at night during their senior IPU night team rotations.
In another wing of the hospital is the Women and Infants East Tower, which is a four level building housing our state of the art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Step Down Neonatal Unit, Transitional Care Nursery, Labor and Delivery, Post-Partum, Ante-Partum, and Newborn Nursery. An emergency department expansion at the lower level of the East Tower includes a 10 bed dedicated Pediatric ED. Conference space exists on every floor and is often used for resident teaching sessions.
The “Curriculum” section of our website discusses each rotation in much more detail.
Also, the BBCH web site will give you a better feel for our overall hospital.
In December 2012 MMC transitioned to a complete EMR system. The inpatient and outpatient centers are using Epic to provide a paperless transfer of patient information wherever they are in our system.
Q: What about benefits and vacations?
A: Our residents' salaries are quite competitive. On top of this we offer a benefits package including medical, dental and disability care, malpractice insurance and life insurance. Vacation time is 21 working days per year. We also do our best to assure 5 days off at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. The department also provides educational funds for our residents so they can attend meetings, finance board exams and/or buy textbooks or journals. This amounts to $400 for each first year, $800 for each second year, and $1,000 for each third-year resident.
Q: How will I get feedback on my performance?
A: Feedback is frequent and regular, including formal written monthly evaluations on each resident. Feedback of this nature is used to evaluate each resident on the core ACGME competencies of Medical Knowledge, Patient Care, Communication, Professionalism, Practice Based Learning and Improvement, and Systems Based Practice. Twice a year, our Clinical Competence Committee (consisting of major rotation supervisors along with the Program Directors) meets to provide an overview of each resident's progress. Our residents discuss these composite evaluations individually with the program director. Evaluations are shared with faculty advisors on a periodic, but regular basis. Patients and paraprofessionals also provide feedback to our housestaff, specifically to address communication and professionalism. We expect our faculty to provide verbal feedback during rotations to address expectations and ways to improve. Residents also complete evaluations of the faculty, rotations, and colleagues. This feedback is used regularly to guide ongoing program development.
Q: Do the residents have input into the program?
A: We have a great training program and are always looking at ways to improve it. Opinions from the residents are welcome directly or anonymously, and are always taken seriously. Monthly, the chief resident meets with the residents in a forum to discuss active issues in all areas of the program and solicit input into the resolution of these issues. Residents are an integral part of our program evaluation/education committee where major programmatic changes and development take place. Residents are also members of all key committees within the department. There are these formal lines of communication, but primarily we rely on open dialogue between faculty, residents, and support staff.
Q: Where do residents come from and where do they go?
A: Our residents have come from great medical schools from across the country. The point of training is to become employable. Often applicants ask how competitive they will be at the end of residency, whether they are entering practice or a fellowship. The best way to answer this is by proven track record. On average over the years, 50% of our residents enter primary care and 35% go on to pediatric fellowships, and approximately 15% become pediatric hospitalists. Of those who enter primary care, many join established practices, large and small, within Maine and throughout the country, and often become leaders in their local communities. Our residents enter competitive specialties regularly and generally match with the top one or two programs of their choice.
Please see Alumni & Fellowship Placements for specific positions and locations where our recent graduates have gone after training, including a list of fellowships that our residents have been accepted into.
Q: Will I be doing much teaching or supervising?
A: All of our residents are actively involved in supporting our 3rd and 4th year medical student experiences. This may include supervision on inpatient and ambulatory rotations and teaching sessions. Medical students may join a resident in a clinic visit, newborn exam, or hospital admission. The innovative “Maine-Tufts Program in Medicine ” is now in its 7th year. The Maine group will complete their entire third and fourth year clerkships at Maine Medical Center. Also, we frequently have medical students from Dartmouth, University of Vermont, University of New England COM, and other schools throughout the country. We welcome these learners into our community, and are excited that our residents are a large part of their pediatric clinical medical school experiences.
Q: What about resident housing?
A: Portland is both a delightful and safe city in which to live. The hospital is located in a residential district, so some of the residents live in apartments, houses, or condos within walking distance of the hospital. Others prefer rural and smaller coastal communities. Many residents find very affordable housing only 5-20 minutes away. Many residents purchase homes or condos when they start training and turn them over to others when they finish their residency. Because most residents participate in the transport call as PL2 and PL3's, we recommend finding a home less than 20 minutes from the hospital.