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3 Tips for your Intern Year of Residency

Some of you have started your intern year of residency this past week, others will start on July 1st. I am SO excited for you all! I’ve thought about what words I needed to hear when I started intern year, and placed my top 3 tips for you here.


1. Be OK with feeling uncomfortable.

This is by far the most important thing for me. In order to truly open our minds and learn, we must push our boundaries a bit, out of our comfort zone. The first time you grab that patient chart as the doctor.. the first time you’re told to do a procedure by yourself.. the first time you place a medication order… it will all feel super weird. Scary sometimes. When you feel that discomfort or feel out of place, shift your mindset from “I’m not meant for this” to “I’m in a moment of growth.”


Think of discomfort as a positive in this way – it will teach you something. 


2. Ask when you need help, even if it’s a trivial task.

Growing up, my mom always helped me with my math homework (she is a calc professor). She would tell me, “try the problem on your own, but if you still can’t get anywhere after 5 minutes, ask for help. There is no reason to spend hours on a problem that someone can help you with in 5 minutes.”

While medicine is not exactly the same (the stakes in medicine are higher of course), it taught me a good lesson – to ask for help when I need it. You won’t have a lot of time in residency to begin with. So don’t spend an hour looking for the note template or correct order in your system’s EMR. Sure, take a few minutes to look for it yourself, but if you can’t get it, don’t waste your time spinning your wheels.


Ask for help, learn it, and then move on to your next task.



3. Don’t sacrifice sleep, exercise, and nutrition.

… If you can at all help it. This is a hard one, because we really aren’t in control of our time during residency. I’m lucky that my residency program allows for me to get adequate sleep and I have enough time outside of work to get in a few workouts and some basic meal prep each week. But you may not have that luxury depending on your program and/or specialty. I can say pretty confidently that I would NOT have made it through intern year without these things.

So with whatever free time you DO have, prioritize yourself. This may mean that you can’t go help that friend move on your one day off because you really need to sleep and go for a long walk in the sun. And yes, it’s okay to tell your friend that’s the reason you can’t help. Set healthy boundaries. You only have so much time and energy.


You need to prioritize YOUR health and wellness, or you won’t be able to be there for your patients and loved ones.


 Remember, you ARE prepared for this and if you work hard, you WILL succeed.



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