To Do’s Before Starting Residency

10 Apr 2023

By Alyssa Brown

Congratulations are in order for the many new women surgeons that will be joining our ranks as interns next year! Last year, I felt like time flew by between opening that envelope and starting intern orientation. The finish line of my intern year is in sight, and looking back now,  there were so many things I wished I had or hadn’t done. Here is my unofficial guide to getting ready for residency.

  • Do not study!

This is one of the last times you will have time that is completely yours. You should not worry yet about how to study for next year or try to review for residency. The time will come for in-service exams, but that time is not now. 

  • Update your CV

This is very lame to do, but it is important. It is helpful to start residency with an up-to-date CV. It takes time, but it is better to spend the time now getting organized than to wait until residency when you have less time overall. It should be fairly straightforward to translate some of the ERAS data from residency applications.

  • Find a primary care physician and/or therapist

From personal experience, it can take a while to get into a new doctor’s office. This can be made even more tricky if you have daily medications that you need. Ask some of the residents in the program if they recommend anyone, and once you have your new insurance information, you can start to establish care. Often, with insurance and location changes, it can mean changing therapists/mental healthcare providers. You can talk to your therapist to see if they can continue to see you virtually, if not, it is good to look up options in your area or through the GME office. 

  • Say goodbye to mentors

Your mentors want to know where you matched, so make sure you update them! It is a great time to see them before leaving for residency and to pick their brains on if they know any people in your new department. They can also give tips and tricks for residency.

  • Finish off projects

If you have any papers or research to finish, it is a good time to complete these and get them submitted. These things can take time, but they can easily be lost and forgotten if you leave it until residency to pick up again.

  • Complete all the paperwork!

I know this is the most annoying part. Our program coordinator called me on Match Day to ask for my social security number, and I was so worried that I gave her the wrong one! The paperwork, emails, and training sessions can seem boring and exhaustive, but the faster you get them done, the better. It can sometimes take a long time to complete and work through the bureaucratic system, so being on top of things really will pay off.

  • Enjoy your time!

I know I just listed a bunch of mundane tasks, but this is the most important one. Read all the books you have been meaning to read, go sit in the sun, go on hikes, see your friends and classmates, spend time with your family, go on vacation—do whatever will make you happy. This is one of the last times you will have complete and total free time, so use it. 

I remember how stressed I was to start intern year. I wanted to fast-forward from March to July, but I am glad I didn’t and couldn’t. I read around ten books I had been putting off, played golf with my dad, spent a few weeks in California with my partner, cried saying goodbye to many people and the town I loved, but it was worth it. Medical school is a time that you will not forget. You will see many of your friends and classmates again, but with residency, it gets harder. You will find them in Facetime chats from call rooms and group chats attempting to find a weekend that everyone was free.. Also, it is okay to be scared. I was terrified last year. I was worried that it may not be the right program, that everyone would hate me, that I wouldn’t make friends, and the list goes on. It is okay. It is okay to be nervous and to feel the full range of emotions about this experience. No matter what I tell you, you will still be nervous, but it won’t be long until you will be an intern. Until then, enjoy the time while you have it. Go make some memories.

Alyssa Brown grew up in Chattanooga, TN.  She went to Centre College for a B.S. in Biology and minor in History.  She fell in love with surgery after seeing her mentor perform an anoplasty during the first year of medical school.  She finished her third year of medical school in 2018 and wandered off the beaten path to get a PhD, before finishing her MD.  She is receiving her MD degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Physiology at Mayo Clinic School of Biomedical Sciences.  She just started her fourth year back at Louisville (clearly). Her thesis research is on diaphragm muscle mitochondrial function and morphology. She also participates in research projects focused on physician infertility, student mental health, and pediatric surgery. She has been a part of the AWS Blog Subcommittee and AWS Instagram Subcommittee for three years, and she has loved writing pieces for the blog over the past two years. During the pandemic, you will probably find her baking sweets and pastries that she saw on “Great British Bake-Off,” or embroidering. You can find her on Instagram @Alyssa_b_futuremdphd and on Twitter @Alyssa_B_MDPhD.




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.

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