questions to ask during residency interviews

17 Questions to Ask During Residency Interviews: A Physician Spouse/Partner Perspective

As residency interview season approaches, it’s important to understand that the coming years will be a joint adventure for physicians and their families, especially their significant others. As such, the support and resources offered by a residency program can significantly impact the well-being and success of both the physician and their family members. If you’re a physician spouse/partner, you may have specific questions and concerns about how the program will accommodate your needs and those of your family.

Residency interview season is your opportunity to ensure that the program aligns with your family’s values, goals, and aspirations. Knowing this, here are some questions you and/or your medical school spouse/partner may want to address during residency program interviews, topics which focus on support for spouses and families, relocation assistance, work opportunities, work-life balance, and much more. 

  1. Support for Spouses: Ask about the specific resources and support systems the residency program has in place for spouses. This might include complimentary access to The MedCommons Circle, counseling services, social events for families, or a point of contact for family-related concerns.
  2. Relocation Assistance: Ask about any assistance provided for relocating families, such as help finding housing, information about local schools, and recommendations for reliable moving services. Some hospitals, especially in rural areas, provide a stipend for moving expenses
  3. Work Opportunities: If you don’t plan to work from home, find out if the program offers or knows of any job placement services, networking opportunities, or information about local job markets for spouses seeking employment. The hospital or healthcare system may even have employment opportunities available for physician spouses/partners.
  4. Resident Schedule and Work-Life Balance: Rarely will you be able to count on the regularity of a resident’s schedule. It’s worth trying to understand the typical schedule, including hours worked and rotations. Ask how the program promotes work-life balance for residents and their families.
  5. Call Schedule: Pagers may not be a regular thing in everyday life anymore, but the same does not hold true for a physician. Inquire about the frequency and structure of on-call duties to assess the potential impact on family life.
  6. Family-Friendly Policies: Learn about any family-friendly policies, such as flexible scheduling, options for parental leave, or accommodations for family emergencies.
  7. Supportive Community: Ask about the presence of a residents’ support group or a network of spouses who can provide guidance and support in navigating life during residency. (If the residency program doesn’t provide access to The MedCommons Circle as part of their wellness benefit package, spouses/partners can always join on their own!) 
  8. Childcare Services: Get information on available childcare options, whether on-site facilities or recommendations for trusted local providers.
  9. Healthcare Benefits: Understand the healthcare benefits provided to residents and their families, including coverage for spouses and dependents, and any associated costs. Even ask about discounts to local fitness facilities as part of their healthcare benefits. Exercise is an important tool in preventing both physician and physician spouse/partner burnout. 
  10. Educational Opportunities: Find out if there are educational opportunities available for spouses, such as access to nearby universities or programs that offer professional development.
  11. Financial Support: Inquire about any financial support options, scholarships, or grants that might be available to residents and their families.
  12. Community Engagement: Ask for information about the local community, such as events, clubs, and organizations that spouses can join to become involved and build a support network. Check out this article for ways to get involved in your community even before you’ve landed!)
  13. Safety and Neighborhood Information: Request details about the safety of the area and recommendations for family-friendly neighborhoods. Al
  14. Communication and Involvement: Understand how the program involves spouses and families in the residency experience. Are there regular meetings or channels for family input and feedback? Are families involved in their wellness program
  15. Dual-Career Couples: What happens when the spouse/partner can’t leave work to pick up the kids from school either?  Discuss the program’s experience with dual-career couples and any policies or strategies in place to support both partners pursuing demanding careers.
  16. Crisis Support: Ask about resources available to physicians, spouses, and families in case of emergencies, whether medical, personal, or related to the residency program. How a program works with physicians and their families with burnout or during times of crisis is a true reflection of how much the medical program values physician wellness. 
  17. Feedback from Current Spouses: Request to connect with current residents’ spouses or partners to gain insight into their experiences living in the area and being part of the residency community. 

All of these questions during residency interviews are meant to empower you as a spouse/partner, giving you the insight needed to help make informed decisions and ensure a positive and fulfilling experience for your family during this phase of the medical journey. Remember that the support, resources, and policies offered by a residency program can have a lasting impact on your family’s well-being and happiness. By addressing these concerns upfront, you are taking proactive steps to set a solid foundation for a successful and rewarding residency experience, both personally and professionally.

Author

  • Elizabeth Landry

    Elizabeth is a Physician family advocate, Certified Life Coach for Physician Wives, EM wife of 20+ years, mother, and founder of The MedCommons – a marriage between her tech/business dev background and passion for helping physician families.

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