How Did That Happen?: How To Get Ready For The First Day of Residency

It is just about the week before residency starts. I am remembering how stressed I was about getting started and all that lovely stuff.stethoscopes1

So, this week’s How Did That Happen? is all about how to get ready for the first real day of residency. Did I do it all right? Heck no. But, I feel like most people wish they had done something different in one way or another.

  • Relax. I know, it feels counterintuitive when a week from now you will be able to write your own orders without someone glaring over your shoulder every thirty seconds. Seriously. It hasn’t started yet.
  • Do some things that you really enjoy but probably won’t have as much time for when you start residency. Patrick and I went swimming and I binge read fun books. Everyone has a thing. Do that thing.
  • If you had to relocate, explore your city. I still feel like, two years later, I am still trying to figure this place out. That being said, it is nice to get started at least knowing where a good coffee shop is, where to find the gym, how to get to and from work and some good parks/shopping. I like traveling and exploring, so I liken it to being a tourist in your new home. This is something we didn’t do much because we were busy visiting with family and such, but looking back, I wish I had.
  • Take time to be bored. Seriously. Do nothing. Then, remember what that feels like. In the future when insanely busy, remember that feeling.
  • Sleep in. I think this one speaks for itself.
  • Spend time with the people who matter in your life (if possible). They got you through med school and they will get you through residency. Enjoy their company during the in between. We spent a lot of time at home-home between med school and residency and it was really nice.
  • Organize your life. The practical stuff. Make sure your change of address stuff is done, that your bills are in order and finish all of that heap of paperwork they make you do when starting residency. Better to do it now than when things are busy.
  • Find the things you will need to actually do your job when the time comes. When I started residency, the movers dropped our stuff off a few days before things actually got started. I did bring my stethoscope with me in the car, but it took a while to find a white coat (which I didn’t need because my university issues them) and my pen light and reflex hammer. Oh, and pens. I needed pens because they disappear in a move like socks disappear in a dryer.
  • Find some good references or download some good apps. Realistically, you probably already have them, but it is nice to have access to a quick reference about common emergencies and orders and such. And of course, a good drug reference.
  • Check your schedules and go to orientations and things like that. A lot of hospitals have required sessions before you officially start or there is social stuff. I hate social stuff, but the information is good and the food is free (very helpful given you probably won’t get paid for a bit).
  • Find out where to go and when you start… Check to make sure you can actually find your way.
  • It isn’t unreasonable to do some refresher reading before you get started about some common issues or topics you will see on your first rotation. Don’t use all of your time to do it, you can’t remember it all anyway. Plus, you have all of residency to learn everything you need to know. You won’t learn it before you start.
  • Know that being anxious is normal. At least, that is what they tell me. This is a big step. That kind of anxiety stops you from going rogue and harming people. Most everyone survives.

How did you (or do you plan to) enjoy or prepare the week before starting residency?


4 thoughts on “How Did That Happen?: How To Get Ready For The First Day of Residency

  1. I still get a few palpitations when I think about my very first day of residency, July 1st will never be the same for me! haha! General ward pediatrics. Ugh. Today, pediatrics makes up a large part of my family practice and having had my own kids, I am much more comfortable with kids, but back then? Totally different story!

    • Too funny! I love looking back at how things change like that. I thought I would hate paediatrics because kids in mass (like in a classroom) stress me out. Then, I ended up loving it.
      My first rotation was in Rad Onc, so starting in my field of choice wasn’t too bad. That was followed by Gen Surg which scared the life out of me. I almost look back on that as the start of residency more than my real first rotation.

  2. Good tips to file away for next year. 🙂 Thanks! I find I’m a total nerd and enjoy doing a bit of reading before I start a new rotation, so I can imagine that I’ll be doing a bit of that this time next year. Probably not much, though. I’m not that keen haha.

    • 🙂 I am a total nerd and do the same thing. I am glad that I didn’t waste too much of my down time reading, though. It all worked out in the end.

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