Congratulations! You matched into residency! Here are a few tips to navigate the transition from medical student to doctor – enjoy!
TRY TO STAY ORGANIZED.
At the start of residency, I opened a new “note” on my iPhone where I have recorded unique hospital floor/door codes, important phone numbers, EMR passwords, IT help hotline numbers, etc. This keeps me from searching through old emails to find this information. I also took the time to organize my email inbox into pertinent categories, i.e.: “board prep”, “lectures”, “presentations”, “scheduling”, “residency info”, etc. This has definitely helped me keep the constant influx of emails compartmentalized and easy to access. When it comes to logging clinical procedures and jotting down clinical pearls while on rounds, I keep my leather-bound Medelita journal in my white coat or scrub jacket pocket – compact and practical!
LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS.
Residency is tough → 80 hour weeks, sleep deprivation, constant learning... the stress can be palpable some days. To combat this, I’ve found that saying “no” more often to commitments outside of medicine and family time has lowered my stress level significantly. And although not groundbreaking by any means, I have definitely found that when I fuel my body with whole foods, take time to exercise/stretch (or even just take the stairs >> elevator), and get plenty of sleep, I simply feel better. It’s the little decisions each day that keep life’s stressors in check and my mental well-being healthy.
All doctors are goal-oriented, type-A, reach-for-the-moon kind of people, right? Wrong. However, most physicians are determined, passionate people that set goals and don’t give up easily, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have balance in life. One goal of mine has been to defy the stereotype that women in medicine can’t “have it all” (family + career, primarily). Here’s the thing: no one else is living your life, your dream. Ignore the comments that you must fit a certain mold. Life’s all about choices and the one’s you make now will impact your future -- choose wisely. If having a family and chasing your professional dreams is a goal, go for it! You may be viewed as crazy, but at the end of the day, you’ll be doing what you love and that’s all that matters.
KEEP YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM CLOSE.
It’s easy to think we’re on this journey alone and our friends and family don’t have a clue what we’re going through, but I challenge you to invite them in. Residency has a tendency to be all consuming. I’ve found it helpful to literally schedule time in my week to meet with colleagues (outside of work), go on a #datenight, exercise our horse at the barn, or even make phone calls to loved ones far away. Leave encouraging notes or take a moment to send that text letting your family and friends know just how much you appreciate their support.
VALUE YOURSELF AND KNOW YOUR WHY.
Remember, you are more than worthy to be here. You have the skills to succeed and the determination to finish your training strong. Never forget WHY you chose medicine as a career. I have a “thankful” journal that I write in monthly and it serves as a tangible reminder that there is so much to be grateful for in this life, this career, and this season of training. Whatever it may be for you, re-visit your WHY often and know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.