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Surviving Your First Year of Residency

residency training

The first year of a residency program is notoriously rough.

Success in medical school does not automatically translate to success as a resident, and the learning curve is steep. You have to understand the basics of a medical residency first. Here are a few survival tips from physicians who have been through it all:

1) Get to know people.

During your first week, learn the names of your fellow residents, attending physicians, and other hospital staff members. They will be your guiding light during your residency training.

2) Ask questions!

Just because you are officially an M.D. doesn't mean you know it all. Residency is part of your training, where you will be developing your skills as a living, breathing physician. Asking questions is better than making a mistake, though mistakes will be inevitable.

3) Yes that's right, mistakes will be inevitable. And it's okay.

Attending physicians and fellow residents will be around to make sure that you don't make any tragic mistakes. But you are still in training, and mistakes will happen. Take responsibility for them, learn from them, and move on.

4) Get organized. The earlier, the better.

Time will become an even more precious commodity when you start your residency program. If you are moving to a new city for your training, settle into your new home and take care of errands such as registering your car or figuring out child care options before your first day of work. You won't have much time for this later.

Being organized early on will help you maintain some semblance of a balanced lifestyle. Remember, in order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself first! Make time for your loved ones, for exercise, and for eating well.

5) Learn to nap on command.

The days will be long and hard, and constant fatigue will lead to careless mistakes. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is an unavoidable issue during residency training. Mitigating the effects of sleep deprivation through "strategic napping" during longer shifts is the recommended course of action for now.

More on surviving residency programs

Kevin MD offers tips for entering the intern year.
Tips for first-year residency programs

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