The perfect match for residents
Fred Lovejoy, MD, Carl Eriksson, MD and Mary Beth Son, MD
Every spring thousands of hopeful medical students around the country anxiously await news of where they will spend the next three or more years of their training. As "Match Day" quickly approaches, Children's News took some time to learn about the Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center (BMC).
Frederick Lovejoy, MD
Residency program director
Lovejoy completed his residency subspecialty training at Children's, serving as a chief resident for four years. He has directed the residency program for the last 25 years.
What's the process for becoming a resident at Children's, and what do you look for?
We get about 1,000 applications annually that are reviewed by our intern selection committee. Those 1,000 are whittled down to 250 that we actually invite for interviews. They come and spend half the day at Children's and half at BMC, seeing teaching rounds, going on tours of the hospitals, being interviewed, and meeting with faculty and housestaff. Of those 250, we then select our top 100 or so, who in turn rank their top programs. We end up with 40 residents each year.
We strive for a very diverse class. Not just geographically and ethnically, but also in terms of interests—sub-specialty pediatrics, primary care, international health, research, etc. We want people who really have a passion for learning how to be good doctors and for carrying medicine to the next level. Who you choose as residents is tremendously important because they often go on to fellowships and stay on as faculty.
What characterizes each year of residency, and where do residents go after graduation?
For the first, or intern, year, it's very challenging. You're seeing things you've never seen before. Every rotation is a new experience. But after about six months, you begin to know the hospital and the systems. You're going back to the same rotations. And all of a sudden you're feeling much more comfortable with your skills.
Second year is different. You're working a little more independently with fellows and faculty, less on the ward services with senior residents. So you still have lots of supervision, but you are dealing with sicker patients in the subspecialties.
Then you move into the third year when you're running and supervising the services. You're in charge of students and interns, and you begin to really hone your craft—you learn, and teach others, how to take care of patients well.
You graduate from residency at the end of third year, and then comes the decision—do you solely want to take care of patients, or do you want to go into academic medicine where you will be taking care of patients, teaching and conducting research? And the options ultimately are three—you go into practice, into fellowship or become a chief resident.
Of our 40, four become chief residents, and of the remaining, 80 percent go into fellowships and the rest go into pediatric practices. That's extremely high in terms of fellowships—more than any other training program in the country. But there's a nice balance—you want to train future leaders and researchers, but you also want people who are going to be wonderful practitioners and refer patients to Children's.
Carl Eriksson, MD
Eriksson began his internship in June 2004. He is currently working on the Cardiology Service.
Why did you choose Children's for your residency?
The program is really amazing. Since it's split between Children's and BMC, it's unique in that we get a really well-rounded experience. At Children's we see kids from all over the world with really rare and serious diseases, while at BMC, we see kids with more common illnesses. Also, Children's is an incredible hospital. It makes a really big difference to be part of a program with people who are the best at what they do.
What's residency been like so far?
It's exhilarating. It's terrifying. Everyday is different. It's tough because you're in an entirely new situation. Residents have a unique relationship with the hospital and everyone around us’Äîon one hand, we're learning as students, and on the other, we're expected to get work done as employees, which can be tough to balance. But overall it's been great. It's the hardest thing I've ever done academically, without a doubt.
Also, despite the fact that we're working a lot of hours and have roles that at times can be frustrating, the residents here are really, really positive. They find ways to take something away from just about every experience. It's really inspiring and has helped me get more out of this experience.
Mary Beth Son, MD
Son completed her residency in June 2004. She will begin her fellowship in Rheumatology at Children's this July.
Why did you decide to become a chief?
Two reasons: the first is that the teaching and learning opportunities associated with being a chief are tremendous. I've learned so much—being responsible for teaching, you learn the material incredibly well. Second, I really wanted to help make the program even better.
Was your residency everything you hoped it would be?
The training I've gotten here is really outstanding—more than I expected—but I think it's hard to know what to expect. I've learned a tremendous amount. And it's only reaffirmed my decision to become a pediatrician. I can't even tell you how many nights being on-call I was so happy that I chose pediatrics. It never fails that in the middle of the night I'd have to be up to go see a sick patient, and when I saw a child, I was always happy to be there.