Answering the call to help all residents
As the new Residents Council (RC) chair, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of the outgoing RC and provide an update on our focus for year ahead.
Last year, the RC accomplished many things – from expanding its outreach to include an international presence, to following through with ongoing projects such as the Professional Resource Opportunities in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Education and Leadership (PROPEL) mentorship program that creates mentorship groups of four (junior/senior residents paired with junior/senior faculty), and expanding the Roadmap to Success website. All was accomplished in the face of COVID-19 via a virtual presence and drive to push forward.
The RC also worked hard to address the challenges posed to a large number of residents when two programs closed last year. As a result of these unforeseen closures, 22 active residents and three prospective trainees who had matched found themselves suddenly displaced. The RC stepped up, listened to their concerns, helped identify problems and solutions, and most importantly, assisted many with finding new positions.
We heard from many residents how the disruption caused by these closures affected them and highlighted the vulnerable position in which residents can find themselves. Perhaps stimulated by the challenges posed by these program closures, we had one of the largest turnouts ever for our annual ASPS RC meeting in October in Atlanta. There, the RC led a thought-provoking, brainstorming session that yielded a number of constructive ideas to improve the process should any programs close in the future. Moreover, it underscored that residents as a group have a strong desire to support one another – and collectively the creativity, drive and influence to have a positive impact.
In light of the importance of this issue to residents, our immediate focus as a council is on following through on the ideas recently proposed to improve the ACGME program review process. We'll also continue working on ongoing projects: encouraging greater participation in PROPEL, updating the Roadmap website with a section geared toward general surgery residents interested in plastic surgery and planning for our annual Medical Students Day. We're also hoping to develop projects looking into factors that affect resident wellness and ways the RC can contribute to that wellness.
I want to emphasize that we're open to new ideas and happy to onboard residents or Fellows interested in getting involved in any ongoing project – please don't hesitate to reach out. Above all, remember we're a community and here to support each other. I look forward to working with all over the coming year.
Dr. Fracol is a chief resident at Northwestern University and ASPS Residents Council chair.