It’s Go Time!

July 1st is a day that means nothing to most people.  It seems to be just another day between them and their 4th of July vacation.  But in the medical community, it is a changing of the guards.  July 1st is the official first day of residency across the United States.  If you are completing residency, congratulations!  If you are starting residency, it’s time to get your mind right.  Here are some tips to help you get ready to grind out.


  1. Stock your work locker/storage with extra underwear, toiletries and snacks. Get some frozen or canned dinners for home for the days when you are too tired to imagine cooking
  2. Figure out some ways to get your exercise. You need it to keep your mood and your weight stable.  Think about joining a gym or the YMCA.  Explore the area. There may be a walking/running trail near your hospital or your home.
  3. Put your bills on auto-pay. You will be too tired to remember to pay them manually.
  4. Get a little notebook for call night. You’re only one person.  Therefore and ergo, you won’t be able to save everyone all at once.  You’ll need to write down the patient’s name, room number, problem and the name of the nurse that called you.  Check them off as you deal with them.  This will help you with morning report or morning rounds as well.
  5. Start rounding early. Take personal responsibility for knowing everything there is to know about your patients.
  6. Document, document, document. If you do or say anything to a patient, write a note.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan) format, but write something.  If you can’t prove it, you didn’t do it.
  7. Unless there is an emergency you can’t handle or you don’t know what to do, try get as much information as possible before you call your superior. If you are an intern, then the senior resident on call is your superior.  Do not call your attending without speaking with the resident first.  Especially in the middle of the night.  It’s protocol.
  8. Read about your patient’s conditions. The info will stick better if you have a mental hook to hang it on.
  9. Be respectful. Not only to your attendings, but to your fellow residents.  Don’t dump work that you could and should have done, just because it’s close to the end of your call.  Give a proper sign-out so that your colleagues can have all the pertinent information that they need to care for the patients you are handing over to them.
  10. Get a mentor.  Your program may assign you a faculty mentor, but if they don’t choose one.  Try to pick one that has similar academic interests or that you personally vibe with.  You need someone on your side to help you navigate this thing and to stand up for you.

Enjoy these last few days of freedom.  Good luck and God bless.

Jarita Hagans, MD is a Family Practice physician, speaker and author of “MD Dreams:  Practical Advice for Every Stage from Premed to Residency and Beyond”. Find more info on Follow her on Twitter @doctorjarita.

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