For years, residents have tried valiantly to extract themselves from the hospital by physically moving out of the premises or reducing duty hours. Now it may be time to return.
Rents are rising, and in the major metropolitan areas where most residencies exist, this is being felt acutely. Salaries are generally static, but rents have risen about 7.4 percent compared to last year. Doctors come into residency with enormous debt and are expected to somehow take on more financial responsibility while still in training.
So why not set up somewhere free? If you are looking for centrally located, you can’t do better than a room in the hospital. You would never be late to work because you literally live at work. The cafeteria is downstairs serving all meals, or if you are in a rush, the vending machine always has something edible if it accepts your crushed dollar bills. The trippy wall art of moonlit cacti somehow complements the dorm decor. The smell of the old textbooks tickles the nostrils at night. No one will ever come to visit you in these days of COVID, so you will have a great deal of study time, and the neighbors are either noisy or humdrum but never stay past an hour or two. If you are looking for exercise, you can spend endless minutes wandering the wards looking for a clean blanket.
It is hard to believe a mere hundred or so years ago, residents were actually residents with a key and a toothbrush. I have heard rumors of medical students bunking down in call rooms, and I don’t blame them. They won’t even get a stipend for another year or two. If we all move in, maybe, the hospital will boost productivity. No more excuses for broken-down engines or flat tires. There will be no need for a housing stipend. It works on so many levels. You just have to get used to the smell.
Jonathan Peters is a neurology resident.
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