6 Tips for Starting Residency and Surviving


No matter what profession you’re trying to get into, starting an internship is intimidating. You’re the new person. You’re so green in your skills. Yet, starting residency as a physician is even more intimidating. Why? Because you’ll literally have people’s lives in your hands, and it is critical that you apply everything you learned up to this point. Everyone who goes into medical school waits for the moment to start residency. Some wait with anticipation. Others wait with dread. Everyone is a bit nervous. If you’re feeling this way, take a deep breath and read. Here are six tips for starting residency and surviving!

6 Tips for Starting Residency as a Med Student

Are you prepared to handle the beast that is residency? Here’s a survival guide for you.

1. Mentally prepare yourself… it won’t be easy

If you are in med school, you already know it’s going to be hard. Once you get to residency though, it gets even harder. One of the most important tips for starting residency is to mentally prepare yourself. Know that it won’t be easy. You’re going to be extremely busy working long hours. You’re going to see and do a lot of things you’ve likely never experienced before. You’re going to have really hard days, physically and emotionally. You’re going to be challenged.  Yet, at the end of it, you’re going to come out with the hands-on practice you need in order to work as a doctor.

tips for starting residency

You mentally preparing yourself for residency!

2. Make sure you have a support system

During your residency, it is really important to have a support system. And we’re not just talking about your family, friends, or a significant other. Also lean on your fellow residents and we strongly recommend getting a mentor. Having a mentor who has been through it before and is now on the other side can really help you keep your perspective in check.

tips for starting residency

You’ll need someone to lean on during residency.

3. Admit when you don’t know something

Another of the critical tips for starting residency – admit when you don’t know something. If you don’t admit when you’re wrong, or when you’re unsure, you will rob yourself of the opportunity to learn. There will be a lot of pressure and testing of your knowledge. It can be intimidating to admit that you don’t know something or you’re unsure. However, this is the best way to make sure you know everything you need to know.

tips for starting residency

Ask lots of questions!

4. Make time for you

Making time for yourself may seem impossible with all of the stress of residency but trust us when we tell you that you must do it anyway. You can’t learn and keep up if you don’t take care of yourself. Taking a brain break, so to speak, to do things you enjoy will keep you sane during residency. Also don’t forget to eat healthy foods that keep you energized during the day. Although you might be tempted to stress eat some carbs, this will only slow you down.

tips for starting residency - make time

Make time for yourself or you’ll get too burned out.

5. Don’t forget to savor the moment

As much as we keep harping on the fact that being in residency is extremely stressful, don’t forget to savor the moment. This is such a huge step in your path to becoming a doctor. Pause and appreciate the little things… that special moment with a patient, the laughter between coworkers, all of the first times you get to do something. It will be over before you know it, so savor the experience!

tips for starting residency

Savor the moment.

6. Focus on your end goal

No matter what, always focus on your end goal. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired, think about the reward at the end. You’ll get to be a doctor – your dream job – and you’ll get to help so many patients. You’ll be able to pay off your medical school debt, make good money, and hopefully thrive in your profession. You just have to get through this really tough, intense, learning period.

tips for starting residency

Keep your eye on the prize!

What other tips for starting residency do you have? Share them with your fellow peers in the comments below!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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