At a recent Leadership Forum, Career Physician President Wesley Millican led a group of Chief Residents and Senior Fellows in a discussion of goal setting.

Fewer than 1% of polled residents have committed their professional goals to paper in writing, and Millican stresses that taking the time to clearly define goals is the first step toward actually achieving them.

Values and Goals

The residents in the workshop listed the values and goals they had for themselves within their training program.

  • Academic excellence
  • Quality patient care
  • Teamwork: trust and dependability
  • Fun place to work
  • Nurturing atmosphere
  • Professional and personal accountability
  • Dedication
  • Solid business model
  • Honesty
  • Presenting a professional image to other departments
  • Scholarship – pursuit of knowledge

Although there was broad consensus in the group that no single program had achieved all these goals, each agreed that the goal of instilling these values in their program was critically important to a successful year as Chief Resident.

Your Roles

Using role-playing, participants in the workshop asked themselves a simple question — What is my role as Chief Resident?

The range and number of valid responses was surprising  to some and

included –

Conflict Resolver









Role Model


Team Builder



Physician Advisor

Millican suggested that Chief Residents always remember the context within which their goals are set, and their perceived role in the workplace dynamic.   In this way, they will be better able to solicit help from other involved stakeholders in achieving their goals.


The last step in setting a course for achieving your goals is to identify the stakeholders — who are the people affected by the way the program is run?  The group of workshop residents identified the following:

  • patients and their families
  • attending physicians, faculty
  • technicians
  • support staff
  • industry
  • administration
  • referring physicians
  • the residents’ own families
  • other residents
  • not-for-profit organizations

Analyzing each stakeholder group individually the residents identified what’s valuable to them about what the Chief Resident does.

To the Attending Physician, the group said their labor, scheduling tasks, knowledge of medicine, and professionalism to the patients were the most important.

To their own families, the group identified time, money, management of stress levels and attitude as the most important factors.

“Discover who depends on the Chief Resident for what,” advised Millican. “Through this exercise, you can identify the needs of each group and create a solution.

“As an example, to solve the problem of making time with family, you could start a group family dinner project.” he said.

Goals need to be specific and written down before they can be successfully achieved, according to Millican. Everyone finds it difficult, but by using the method of identifying values, roles and stakeholders, a workable and achievable plan can be launched and met.

About the Author:

Wesley D. Millican, MBA, CEO and Physician Talent Officer of CareerPhysician Advisors, LP, and CareerPhysician, LLC, provides comprehensive talent solutions for academic children’s hospitals, colleges of medicine and academic medical centers across the nation. He possesses a longstanding passion for career development of all young physicians and serves as a go to career resource for training program directors and their residents and fellows. In continuing his commitment to the “future of medicine”, Mr. Millican speaks nationally at residency and fellowship programs. His Launch Your Career® Series is a proven resource for today’s residents and fellows and has served as a go to resource for program directors over the last 15 years.