Ways To Ace Residency

Image Credit: Pexels

Author: Adriana Coleska, MD, AAEM/RSA Board of Directors

Originally published: Common Sense
November/December 2019

My name is Adriana and I am one of the AAEM/RSA Board Members and your liaison to the Publications and Social Media Committee. As I transition into my role as the senior resident, I thought I would share with you a few tips that have helped me enjoy my time in residency and make the most out of the learning opportunities.

  1. Save the numbers of all of your co-residents in your phone!
    Your co-residents are your lifeline. You should always be able to count on them for advice, shift swaps, check-ins, and that occasional “sorry I’m running late” text. You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for numbers in a time of need.

  2. Find a “failure buddy”
    This is your person to share your deepest, darkest failures with. It’s the person you can talk to about the missed diagnosis, the hard intubation, the emotional toll of taking care of trauma patients. The failure buddy is the one you can safely talk to about anything that’s weighing on your mind to keep you moving forward, learning, and saving lives.
  3. Talk to your family and your friends outside of residency
    Our job is hard and we see and hear things that are not ordinary. Use your connections outside of the hospital to keep you grounded and understand how lucky you are to have the job you have, but also how unusual the challenges you face on a daily bases are.
  4. Become best friends with your pharmacist
    You don’t know struggle until you try to run a code without a pharmacist… Trust me, get to know them, asked them questions, you will not regret it.
  5. Immerse yourself in the off-service rotations
    I know that you didn’t go into EM to titrate a beta-blocker or write progress notes, but your off-service rotations are your chance to learn from the specialists. Ask them how they would deal with emergencies in their field and remember those pearls when you have that patient in your ED.
  6. Make friends with your off-service coworkers, they will be your future consultants
    Asking for a borderline admission is much easier when talking to a friend. Personalize your consults, be polite, and enjoy the social aspect of EM.
  7. Engage your nursing and tech staff in the care of your patients
    This collaborative approach allows for everyone to have skin in the game. The workup goes much smoother if everyone is on the same page. Talking the plan through can also help bridge gaps in the care and catch potential mistakes before they become a problem.
  8. Bring snacks and drinks to your shift
    Don’t become hangry, enough said.
  9. Take wellness walks!!
    Take 5 minutes during your shift to walk around the emergency department, say hi to your coworkers, check in on how their day is going, and stretch your legs. This lets you reset and remember that you signed up for this for a reason. Wellness walks have been a huge hit for our residency, try it in yours!
  10. Finally, celebrate the victories, and learn from the mistakes.

I hope these pearls help you in your upcoming years in residency.