The attitudes of five academic psychiatric residency programs toward the job of the chief resident were studied. Both faculty and residents agreed that the job was an important one, though the specific reasons varied from program to program. Despite local differences, analysis of the data revealed that the importance of the chief residency was found to be due to a set of circumstances that were generally true in each program.
These involved the responsibility of advising and influencing both younger, less experienced residents and older faculty members. The chief residency was also seen as a position which involved a balancing of demands and rewards and required living with uncertain consequences, divided loyalties, and at times unsolvable ambiguity. Nevertheless, it was clearly experienced as an unique opportunity for teaching and personal growth.