By Alicia Greene
Congratulations! This is a moment that you will always remember. Many of you have dreamed about being a physician for several years. Not only are you going to be a physician, but you have the opportunity to train to become a surgeon, one of the most rewarding careers in the world (I’m a little biased but hopefully you agree!). Here is my advice on how to make the most of this valuable time before residency begins.
What I am most grateful for during this period was the quality time I was able to spend with friends and family. Vacation and days off are limited once residency begins, so make the most out of this time by visiting the ones who mean the most to you. Some of you may have virtual match days and/or graduations similar to my experience last year. I would recommend setting up a Zoom celebration with your family or celebrating these moments with a small group of your closest friends. Also take this time to enjoy your hobbies. My co-intern, Sareema, had great advice which was to start something that you have always wanted to do such as working out, learning a musical instrument or cooking. Once July 1st (for many programs) arrives, you will need to have these things mastered so you can perform them in autopilot mode during a busy work week.
If you will be moving to a new city, take this opportunity to visit and explore housing opportunities. I would recommend living in close proximity to the hospital where you will be spending the most time. Surgical residency involves long hours of work and overnight shifts so a short drive in to work and back home will provide you with more time to do the things you enjoy outside of the hospital. After moving to your new city, take the opportunity to reach out and meet up with some of your new co-residents. This will be your family for the next several years.
My biggest concern when thinking about starting residency was, “What should I study? I don’t want to be unprepared.” Looking back, I don’t think I retained much of the information I tried learning prior to starting. However, there was one thing I found extremely helpful, the Behind the Knife podcast sessions that are titled “Medical Student and Intern Survival Guide.” These are 12 podcasts that reveal the common scenarios that you will face every day on the floor as an intern taking care of your surgical patients. You are not expected to know all the details on every disease or all the steps of a surgical operation your first month, but you are expected to know how to evaluate a patient, identify complications, and begin the work-up.
Enjoy this moment as well as graduation, and appreciate this time with your family and friends. You are about to embark on one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences of your life. You will have the opportunity to come to work everyday and change someone’s life. Work hard, be passionate, and learn something new with every experience. Congratulations again on matching!
Please join us on Monday, March 22nd at 8pm Eastern Standard Time for an AWS Tweetchat titled “You Matched, Now What?”. This Tweetchat will be geared towards medical students who have just matched, providing them with tips for immediate next steps in preparation for intern year, i.e.: reaching out to residents in the program for housing/apt suggestions, licensing, planning out when to take step 3 and books that are helpful to prepare for intern year. We also are planning to have a discussion for medical students who matched into prelim but not categorical spots and what they should be thinking about and aiming to do for the next year’s match. The chat will be moderated by Dr. Bryce Bludevich (@BBludevich), Dr. Jennifer LaFemina (@JenniferLaFemi1), Dr. Micah Brainerd (@_BrainyMD_), and Dr. Hemasat Alkhatib (@AlkhatibHemasat). The questions will be posted directly from the @WomenSurgeons twitter account and you can also find them following the hashtag #AWSchat and #SurgMatch. If you haven’t participated in a tweetchat with us before, check out this tutorial written by Dr. Heather Yeo (@heatheryeomd) to know more: http://blog.womensurgeons.org/medical-students/beyond-the-basics-of-tweeting/. We will be discussing the following topics during our tweetchat:
Q1: Moving to a new place and starting work at a new hospital is a big step. What is your advice for finding a place to live, tackling licensing, and connecting with your new residency program?
Q2: What can you do to prepare before intern year i.e. skills, reading, knowledge? Are there any resources/must read books you recommend? #Surgeonswhoread
Q3: What advice do you have for students who matched into preliminary surgical positions?
Q4: What advice do you have to maintain wellness & practice work/life integration?
Q5: What is one thing you wished you knew/did before starting residency?
Q6: How do you find a mentor before/during your intern year?
Dr. Greene is from Jarrettsville, Maryland. She graduated from Stevenson University in 2016 and Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2020. She is currently a general surgery categorical intern at Penn State. In her free time she enjoys golfing, playing with her Golden Retriever, and spending time with family.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.