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A medical residency is when a med school graduate performs on-site training in an actual facility outside of the classroom. The time span ranges from two to seven years, depending upon whether the med student is studying a specialized medical field. During the first year, residents are known as interns. This is followed by sophomore, junior, and senior resident titles. While a resident is in training, they provide direct care to patients. This includes diagnosing conditions, treating new and existing health conditions, and running tests, all of which are supervised by the doctor on-call or a senior resident. The earlier a resident is in their program, the more supervision they require. There are a few tips to keep in mind in order to help med students ease through this period of life more smoothly.

One of the essential tips to keep in mind is that everything is temporary. This rule also goes for the grueling schedules that residents endure, typically 80-hour weeks. Although there are new laws that have been put in place by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the fact is life as a medical professional is going to coincide with a lack of sleep. Eventually, your body will adapt to the new sleep patterns, and it will no longer be so hard to tolerate.

It seems counterintuitive to suggest a regular fitness regime when sleep is such a precious commodity. Still, studies have shown that dedication to one’s own mental and physical health reflects their job performance. Hospital environments can be very emotional and unrelenting. The human psyche needs time to recharge. It’s essential to carve out some time to practice self-care, either at the gym or outdoors. This also applies to mental struggles. Whenever you feel anxious or depressed, it is vital to ask for help. Take the same advice you would give to a patient and seek out a support system to stay healthy.

Another tip is to always be honest, even if you know it’s not what people want to hear. There is a lot of pressure on a resident to always have the correct answer when the spotlight is on them, but it is far better to say I don’t know than to offer a potentially damaging guess. Respect and dignity will come faster if you are transparent about your humility and lack of knowledge about a topic.

It can be very easy to isolate during the residency years because your whole world is in a bubble. Because of this, it is crucial not to lose contact with old friends or people you feel close with, whether they are medical school friends, high school friends, family, or loved ones.