Internal medicine residency training is demanding and residents can experience a wide variety of professional and personal difficulties. Residency programs everywhere have had and will continue to have problem residents. Training programs should be equipped to effectively identify and manage residents who experience problems. Previous articles that have been published on the topic of problem residents primarily addressed concerns such as impairment due to depression and substance abuse. The content of this article is derived from a comprehensive review of the literature as well as other data sources such as interviews with program directors and workshops at national professional meetings. This article focuses primarily on four issues related to problem residents: their identification, underlying causes, management, and prevention. The study attempts to be evidence-based, wherever possible, highlighting what is known. Recommendations based on the synthesis of the data are also made. Future ongoing studies of problem residents will improve our understanding of the matters involved, and may ultimately lead to improved outcomes for these trainees.
Keywords: medical education, internship, residency, problem resident