Preparing for Residency

So you matched to a residency program—now what?

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

Making the Rounds

Meet Your Match | Your post-Match Day checklist with John Andrews, MD

Mar 20, 2023

If you’re among the applicants who matched to a residency program this year, you’ve likely enjoyed some celebratory relief after going through the rigors of the residency-application process. 

As a medical student transitioning to residency, your life is going to change significantly in the coming months. What are the best steps to prepare for those changes in both a clinical and personal capacity? 

The ultimate guide to succeeding in medical school

Grow your leadership, advocacy and research skills and set yourself apart for residency with this helpful AMA guide.

  1. Ponder your relocation priorities 

    1. For many graduating medical students, the excitement of Match Day is quickly followed by the anticipation and uncertainty of relocating for residency. You’ll need a new home that balances meeting the demands of clinical training with achieving family, financial and lifestyle goals.    

      In terms of your living arrangement, your options are likely going to fall into three areas: buying—which can be a tall task during residency—renting with roommates and renting on your own. The ideal is to spend no more than 25–35% of monthly income on housing. You also want to remember to factor commute time into your house hunt. 
  2. Use your remaining time in medical school wisely 

    1. Match Day marks the end of a rigorous academic journey before another begins. Often, graduation and some much-needed downtime are in the near future. While some medical students have already completed their coursework by Match Day, many others have a month or more remaining in medical school. Learn how to use that time well. That might mean using resources offered by your residency program; many programs now have post-match orientation and educational activities for learners to complete before they arrive If you are the type who plans ahead, you might want to think about how you will use that limited time off you get during your intern year.  

  3. Prepare your medical residency budget 

    1. Housing is one big fixed cost, of course. Following the right advice on other questions of income and expense can allow you to focus more of your mental energy on getting the most out of your training. For those who have the discipline to save on a resident’s income, follow these tips.  

  4. Have an idea about financial wellness 

    1. What you earn as a resident will be a fraction of your physician income down the road, but it is the beginning of your journey to financial maturity. Taking the right steps means understanding what your loan repayment will look like in the immediate future and what your refinance options are.   

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  5. Know what’s expected of you

    1. Published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency provides a set of tasks learners should be able to perform upon beginning their graduate medical education. Which of those tasks are most vital on day one? To meet those expectations, one veteran physician gives you some key tips and tools you’ll need on the floors. That includes having a pair of good socks while you are on the wards. 

  6. Make the most of your precious free time 

    1. As a resident physician working long shifts and running short on free time, accomplishing everyday tasks can seem to require extraordinary efforts. Understand how residents find time to get their painstaking daily tasks—such as grocery shopping—done. If you are the type who likes to get an exercise routine in place, find out how other residents get it done.  

  7. Plan now for the USMLE Step 3 

    1. Finding time to study for the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) Step 3 can be difficult for residents in the busy first year of residency, often referred to as intern year. Heed these tips for balancing test preparations with rotations to ensure better understanding of the subject matter and boost scores.    

  8. Seek smart advice for the challenges ahead 

    1. As you warm up to life as a medical resident, you will learn that practicing medicine is only part science. Some lessons cannot be gleaned from a textbook or lecture. To get that insight, it is wise to speak to physicians you admire and your future attendings.   

Learn more about the AMA Resident and Fellow Section, which gives voice to and advocates on issues that affect resident and fellow physicians.

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