Dear Rabbi Halperin-
I am an emergency medicine resident in the United States training at a program located in Detroit, Michigan. I specifically chose this program over others on the basis that they had recently graduated from the program a Shomer Shabbos resident, and they had agreed to offer me the same. While I managed to work out scheduling for the first year, the residency director has decided to "revisit" the issue. This, I believe is partly out of increased concerns for scheduling, being that out of a class of 10 residents, there is another orthodox jew in the same graduating class, and as second and third year residents we will both be in the department at the same time for 4 months. Countering this argument, however, is the fact that this past year while they were interviewing the next class of residents, they offered a Shomer Shabbos spot to one of our friends, despite a concern he expressed during the interview that this would be difficult with there already being 2 frum residents. What's more, they have begun to imply that they are prepared to have us work work on Shabbos, even when only 1 of us are in the department. This could be be for any number of reasons, including the fact that there are 2 non-observant jews in the department that have reduced the case against Shemiras Shabbos to "As long as you are saving lives, you can work on Saturdays." Further complicating matters is a Chief resident who worked for a "frum" doctor who she states always worked on saturdays without any difficulty.
The other resident and myself met with the director of our program last month to reiterate the importance of Shabbos. She acknowledged that she had agreed to offer us Shabbos off during our interviews, but that she wanted to know "under what circumstances might we be able to work on Saturdays," potentially trying to open the door to our working on Shabbos. We explained that while theoretically doable, it is practically impossible. While we did not explain to her the fact that there are differences in the laws between Jews and non-Jews, this would certainly be a factor in terms of any practical halachic considerations, as I am certain that I have never treated a jewish patient as of yet.
After our meeting, we received an email from her secretary requesting a meeting with the other resident, myself and our Rabbis. We interpret this as an indication that she is trying to be reasonable and understand the issues involved. We have a meeting set for the end of this month with her , and our shul Rabbi, as well as Rabbi Neustadt who is the Head of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit. In the interim, I would like to know if there is any information that the resident and myself might read in order to prepare for our meeting. Furthermore, are there any resources that I might be able to provide the residency director, as she has alluded to being interested in trying to understand the issue better. It might be that we are best served by waiting for the meeting, as we don't want to confuse or complicate the issue by overburdening her with information. We are having our annual Yarchei Kallah at the end of this month just prior to the meeting, and I had planned on discussing it with R' Weiner as well, as he will be providing some of the shiurim.
Your thoughts and suggestions on this issue would be greatly appreciated-