Getting the Most Out of Residency

Image Credit: Pixabay

Author: Meaghan Mercer, DO
2014-2015 RSA President
Originally Published: Common Sense September/October 2014

As I enter my third year of residency, the end of training is becoming more of a reality every day. I have received many pearls of wisdom along my path from medical students to residents to soon-to-be-attendings. With less than a year to go, I remind myself every day that I should make the most of each day of my education — and I hope you will do the same. A huge thank you to the members of AAEM/RSA, who really have been with me all the way. Reflecting on these past few years, I want to share some advice that has helped me succeed.

Try things that you do not feel comfortable with. I selected a program that will give me the opportunity to see a large volume and every flavor of patient. Walking away from three years in Las Vegas, I know that I will have the skills to handle a sick patient and the ability to continue to learn throughout my career. Pick up every patient that you can while you have the safety net beneath you. Challenge not only yourself but also your teachers. Constantly strive to be better. Learn how to do challenging procedures and work though the frustrating psych case. Ask for at least one learning point per patient you see. You never know what you might learn from one more chest pain patient that may save someone’s life when you are out on your own.

If you haven’t already, find a mentor who will provide support and advice that will guide you and make life easier. Mentorship allows someone to be honest and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Find someone who will be invested in your success. And you don’t have to settle for just one mentor; you can establish multiple relationships that help you in different aspects of your life. Pick someone who has goals similar to yours and who shares wisdom generously. Be open and honest with your mentor and listen carefully. Being part of a professional organization like AAEM/RSA gives you tons of potential mentors and is a great place to start.

Get organized. Start writing your CV. This is the document that describes your educational career and allows potential employers to gain some understanding of your background. Keep this document up to date and add to it monthly. This will allow you to have a template ready when the time comes to apply for a fellowship or a job. Once it is time to submit your CV, have multiple people look at it and edit it. Make sure the formatting is correct and that there are no spelling errors. You want your first impression to be a good one.

Most importantly, have fun. Stress and exhaustion can cloud the best aspects of your job and life as a resident. We get to take people’s lives in our hands and learn from some of their most difficult days. Find joy in the job and the opportunity you have to impact others on a daily basis.

We are excited to welcome the newest members of our specialty, the incoming class of emergency medicine residents. Congratulations to all the residents who just graduated. We look forward to watching your success and hope you stay active in the Young Physicians Section of AAEM.