I'm a current Resident at BIDMC.
To allay some of the concerns, I can comment on a few of the issues raised above.
1. "Eye on BI" - This is a campaign being waged by the local Service Employees International Union because the workers at BIDMC are not unionized unlike some of the other hospitals around Boston. A lot of the employees at BIDMC, because they're actually very satisfied with their workplace, are actually irritated by the SEIU campaign. Feel free to review our CEO, Paul Levy's blog for further details on the subject. I for one am very satisfied with the work environment at BIDMC.
2. Research opportunities - Academic opportunities in both clinical and basic science research abound with numerous mentors in many fields, especially cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology and general medicine. All of these mentors all well-known in their respective fields. Some people were publishing several papers in their intern year. One of our interns last year was first author for an Infectious Diseases study in Annals of Internal Medicine. Of course, academic productivity increases in the 2nd and 3rd year, where there is more opportunity for research time. We get up to 9 weeks of research time in one year, in addition to a 2-week research coruse for those who are more in the early stages and don't have additional degrees or research experience. The faculty are top notch. I personally worked with a great mentor who is associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. One of my classmates has published at least 6-8 papers with the TIMI Study group DURING his residency, of which he was first author on several, and he's not even a PhD. I've heard similar opportunities from classmates in other fields such as GI, Heme/Onc, etc. The dude who invented Up-To-Date, Burton Rose, is a nephrologist at BIDMC, as are a number of the Deputy Editors of Up-To-Date. The Deputy Editor of the New England Journal is also on BIDMC staff. If you're interested in diabetes research, the Joslin Diabetes Center is part of the BIDMC system.
3. Fellowship matches - The Chief of medicine and program director meet with each person planning to apply to fellowship starting early in the season, and will meet with you as often as you like to help you solidify your application. Once you know your top choice program, they both personally call the fellowship director for each applicant's top choice. With regard to the director's letter, it is an amalgamation of letters by three people. The BIDMC Housestaff is divided into Firms, with each firm having its own chief. The point of this firm is to have one leadership faculty get to know you very well over the course of the residency. That's not to say that our PD does not also get to know you well. The final Chair's letter is put together with input from the Firm Chief, the Program Director, and the Chairman of Medicine. I personally applied in cardiology and got my first choice. As for BI not taking its own, Cardiology usually takes 1-2 candidates out of 8 internally. This year, they took 3/8 candidates because there was such a strong pool. We had several people interviewing at the most prestigious cardiology programs, including Partners, Hopkins, Penn, Duke, Cleveland Clinic, or any other top notch program. Of course for people interested in Electrophysiology, BIDMC is the place to be, given the father of modern electrophysiology, Mark Josephson, is our Division chief. It is also a very strong program for echocardiography and MRI imaging, with Warren Manning our many research mentor in that area. Our division chiefs also meet with applicants, and Mark will personally call for you the program director of your top choice when you tell him your choice. And Mark's opinion is not taken lightly in the cardiology world.
5. Clinical training - I've had ICU nurses who have worked at several hospitals around Boston who have commented that BIDMC residents run the most organized and efficient Codes of any housestaff in town. Clinical training is strong in all of the Boston hospitals, but each has its own styles. Brigham has a reputation of being fellow-driven, so they medicine housestaff often have to request consultations from subspecialty services. MGH is seen as probably the most autonomous of the Harvard programs. BIDMC is a balance between the two. BIDMC also takes its duty hour compliance very seriously, which is important in our housestaff's well-being.
Overall, I've been happy with my training at BIDMC and the opportunities it has provided. Feel free to PM me with any messages.