Trials and Tribulations of a 1st-year Resident, from a PGY-2/Survival guide for PYG-1

Dr. Sara Kubick

The transition from being a student to a resident is challenging no matter how much you prepare for it. You’ve spent the last four years preparing to get to this point in your career and it’s finally here! On my first day of orientation at Midwestern University we were told that podiatry/medical school is like “drinking from a fire hydrant” of information and the first month of residency is not much different. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes things that residents do that you are unaware of as a student.

Tip #1: Lean on your team.

First years at my program, Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital, are in charge of making the surgery schedule, putting in surgical orders, and contacting surgical reps in addition to inpatient rounding (when on call), clinic work, and preparing for surgical cases. It can be very overwhelming when you first start because everything is new. You are working with a new EMR system, a new team, and a new level of responsibility. I leaned heavily on my coresident as well as my upper residents. I chose my residency based on two main factors, first and foremost the level of training I would get, and secondly the team I would be a part of. It is safe to say that my team made my transition as easy as it could have gone.

Tip #2: Hold yourself accountable for your education. 

With time, you will grow in your efficiency. You will finish your notes faster, and both your surgical skills and knowledge will expand. First year is a lot of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, you may not know all the answers but you should know where to find all the answers. Residency is not like school where there are checkpoints (exams) telling you what you need to know by a certain date, you are in charge of your education. Take the initiative, you only get three years of residency- make it count! At my program, we have in-depth academic sessions every Wednesday afternoon as well as monthly journal clubs which act as great guidelines for continuing education. It can be hard to try to find time to study outside of a busy work schedule, and some weeks it may not be feasible but try to find additional time to do research or study when possible. 

Tip #3: You have to fill your cup before you can fill others. 

Residency is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Remember to be kind to yourself and to celebrate the small wins. My team has created a great environment that allows us to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and hype each other up, but we also recognize when someone needs a break. This goes along with asking for help when you need it, but recognizing when you need to take a step back. There is not much you can do when you are getting slammed with call or have a lot of cases to prepare for, but take time when you can.

Interest in becoming a podiatric physician? Apply now!