7 things physicians wish they'd done before residency

Congratulations, you matched! Now what? We have your to-do list.

Mar 17, 2016 · Production Blog Author

by Natasha Singh, Doximity

Match Day finally arrived. Congratulations, you matched! Now what are you supposed to do next? We talked with current residents and physicians to find out what they wish they’d done before residency started. Here are some tips we put together on a few items to check off your To-Do list before residency starts this summer.

_Click to Tweet _7 Life Hacks for Medical Students Before Residency Starts via @doximity

1. Connect with your new crew. Now that you know where you will be spending your residency, you probably have a thousand questions running through your head. Where will you live? Where will you find decent coffee in the middle of the night? Do residents ever have time to go for Happy Hour? To get answers, go to the source: current program residents and alums. They were in your shoes, and they probably have tips for navigating your new residency. To connect with your new colleagues, look up your program on Doximity and start scouting the answers to all those burning questions.

2. Goodbye school, hello debt. The average medical school graduate has $176,000 of student debt. Yikes, that’s a lot of dough. And since you are finally saying goodbye to med school, and hello to a real job with a (albeit small) paycheck, now is a good time to look at how you are going to repay your loans. You may have the option of deferring payment on those loans while you’re a resident. Or income-based repayment may make more sense, since you probably expect to earn a higher salary after residency. Take a look at the potential repayment options, and use the AAMC’s medical student loan calculator to figure out the best fit for your situation.

3. Spend wisely, young doctor. Now is a good time to spend your new income wisely. You may have mountains of debt, but extreme penny pinching probably isn’t going to impact that much one way or the other. So spend a little… just don’t go crazy with it. And by the way, this may not be the best time to buy a house. That’s a big debt to take on, plus a house may lock you into a location too soon. Plus, with your on-call hours, you’ll never be able to wait at home for the plumber to show up!**

**4. Don’t forget those textbooks! **Once you figure out where you are going to live during residency, you will need to get all your stuff from here to there… like all those super-heavy medical textbooks weighing down your bookshelf. One little-known option for moving all of your books is USPS Media Mail, which can help you save a lot on shipping educational materials. For example, those 30lb boxes of books that you need to ship across the country? Instead of spending at least $80 per box, you can use Media Mail to get them to your new home for around $17. 

5. Be the hospital hero with your pocket fax machine. You will have a brand new set of co-workers as a first-year resident, and you want to start off on the right foot, as you’ll probably be together for several years. With just one fax machine per floor that everyone has to share in order to send confidential patient information and orders, be the hospital hero with your HIPAA-secure fax app. Impress your colleagues and set yourself up for success by being ready on day one to exchange messages from your phone or tablet, instead of the shared fax machine.

6. Get your paperwork in order. ** Along with getting a digital fax line, it’s a good time to get the rest of your clerical life under control as well. Do that filing you’ve been putting off. Make copies of key documents, like your diploma. Pro tip: set up auto-forwarding from your medical school email address to your personal email address, so you don’t miss out on any important emails post graduation. Since you won’t be able to use your medical school email address for much longer, make sure you switch your login email addresses for important online accounts to a more permanent email address. Need to update your Doximity account? You can change it in your settings.

**7. Last call for a break. **Now that you matched, you may be coming down with a case of “senioritis”. This is perfectly normal, and the symptoms should subside by the time your residency starts! This may be the last hurrah for a little while, so take advantage of the next couple of months to just cruise and have a little fun. Travel. Catch up with family & friends. Pick up a hobby. Take care of yourself -- before you start your residency to do the real work of taking care of others.

If all of this is too overwhelming, just take the advice of Dr. Akshay Sanan, third-year resident in the Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He says, “spend time with your family and friends, sleep a ton, and travel somewhere new if you can. Once residency starts, your life will change forever (for the better, I promise). To date, the time between Match Day and the start of residency was some of my best experiences.”

Photo credit: Scrubs, NBC, http://i.imgur.com/BcL9ECc.gif

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