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    7 Steps to Take Before Your New Medical Residency

    Have you ever heard baseball pitcher Vern Law's famous saying “experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards?" Luckily for you, we’ve compiled 7 pearls of wisdom about residency from physicians who have been there, done that:

    Seek Out a Mentor During Your Medical Residency  

    Two doctors in medical residency working next to each other while looking at a laptop.

    Residency offers a unique opportunity to spend time with great faculty.

    When seeking out a mentor during your medical residency, think about what you want your career to look like. Then, keep your eyes open for someone who you admire and who you are excited to learn from. Absorb their insights and expertise while you are there.

    A mentor can positively impact your career, your leadership skills, and your ability to respond to the demands of medicine. If you don’t have a mentor, seek one out!

    Prepare Your Significant Other for Your Medical Residency

    This is hard to do before you experience residency for yourself, so take the advice of those who have been through it, and make sure both of you are aware of the challenges residency poses to family life.

    Start a Roth IRA While in Residency 

    There is an earning cap on those contributing to a Roth, so take advantage of your chance to sock away some money now—you’ll be ineligible for the tax benefits of a Roth once you start making more later on. 

    Learn About the Patient-Physician Dynamic During Your Medical Residency 

    More and more patients prefer to partner with their doctor when it comes to decisions about care. Where do you draw the line? Rather than referring patient engagement questions to the attending, talk with the attending about how to handle challenges best.

    Find Training on Job Hunting and Negotiation

    Though residency will prepare you well for patient care, it may not teach you all you need to know about landing your first job. Seek advice before you start your hunt.

    Establish Work-life Balance to Avoid Burnout

    Burnout is characterized by: physical and emotional exhaustion from which you cannot rebound in your non-working hours. Unlike the depletion caused by normal stress, the effects of burnout cannot be overcome with targeted down time. Having self-awareness and time for reflection; accepting your professional boundaries; appreciating and focusing on the positive things; and taking interest in the person beyond their symptoms are all ways that you can combat burnout
    You may think you can “put life off” until after your medical residency, but rumor has it your schedule will only get busier. Start finding ways to pursue your favorite activities and spend time with significant others. Striking a balance takes practice, so start now.

    Remember That You Are Not a Fraud

    Perhaps you've heard of imposter syndrome. It's a feeling that physicians get going into residency (and other times in their career) where they feel inadequate or as if they do not deserve to be where they are surrounded by other successful physicians. You may doubt yourself, but remember, you are where you are for a reason!
    If you've ever felt this way, you're not alone. Imposter syndrome is pervasive among young doctors. In a Letter to a Young Female Physician, Suzanne Koven, MD concludes:
    “My dear young colleague, you are not a fraud. You are a flawed and unique human being, with excellent training and an admirable sense of purpose. Your training and sense of purpose will serve you well. Your humanity will serve your patients even better.” Suzanne Koven, MD

    No doubt there will be many lessons you’ll have to learn for yourself, and others that are unique to your own experience. No matter how much you learn, the lessons will never stop! So, whenever you can, lean into the wisdom of those who have walked the road before you. It can make the going just that tiny bit easier. Want more residency tips, like these? Follow along on Instagram, we also share Q&As, Flashcards, motivation and more. 

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