Match Day! Words of Wisdom for Life
Last week, more than 2000 medical students were matched into medicine. We welcomed you, and also offered some advice for how to manage the heavy workload of intern year. For the second part of our resident match day series we will transition our focus from work to life. Intern year is a hectic and stressful time. There are a lot of new things to consider. How will you get your family settled in a new city? What are the next four years going to look like financially? How do you make time for your loved ones and keep your hobbies alive?
Residency is a new chapter and usually begins with a move. Moving is frustrating but also an opportunity for you and your family (spouse, partner, pets) to begin anew. Planning ahead and being prepared can go a long way towards smoothing this process.
- Set aside a weekend shortly after the match to explore your new stomping grounds and get an idea of what type of housing fits your needs/budget.
- Contact residents already in your program, the program coordinator, or the chief residents for guidance on good areas to live.
- Rent or Buy?
- While this is a commonly asked question among interns, there are just too many variables (many of which are personal) to address that topic here. However, White Coat Investor has several posts about this topic that we encourage you to read.
- If your schedule allows it, plan to move 4-6 weeks before any residency commitments begin.
This has been a long time coming, so definitely enjoy your new paycheck. However, this also means it’s time to spend and save responsibly. Some of us come into residency with no debt. Others will have over $300,000 in debt. Either way, there are a few key steps you can take as a resident to set yourself up for the future.
First and foremost, anticipate your paycheck, and set an appropriate budget. It sounds childish, but budgeting is one of the biggest habits linked to financially savvy people regardless of income.
- Are you spending 50% of your monthly income on rent?
- Do you really need that cable television subscription with all the time you spend at the hospital?
- Monitor your budget monthly. White Coat Investor can be a great place to start when creating your budget.
As we hinted at earlier, many of you will have student loans.
- Do you know your interest rates?
- Do you know your options and different programs available to pay off your student loans?
If you’re not sure, it’s time to sit down and do a little reading and research. It won’t take much time to figure out the best approach, and it can make a huge financial difference. Take advantage of some fantastic posts by the White Coat Investor or read his book. Once you have a plan, you will feel a lot better about the numbers staring you back in the face.
- Most hospitals will have some form of retirement account for residents and employees. Tap into this.
- Commit early to contributing as much as you reasonably can. At a minimum, meet the requirements for any match your employer may have. This is free money.
- It’s much easier to start contributing early before you see a paycheck then adjusting a few months in when you are used to that extra bit of money in the bank account every month.
- Term life insurance can be extremely valuable for anyone with family or dependents who will be relying on you and your future income, and it’s also cheap.
- The issue is it’s also based on your health, so locking in a good rate while you’re younger and before you develop hypertension or other chronic diseases can make a big difference in your coverage and payments.
- Disability insurance is also important, and something you need to do a little research on and probably establish at some point.
Residency is time-consuming but life continues. It’s important to make time for yourself and your loved ones and not lose sight of your hobbies. These are the things that will help you recharge after a long day and keep you grounded. Some of us are better than others about setting aside time for wellness. If you are the type that is easily distracted by your hospital email, the latest podcast or medical journal, then you might need to physically schedule your wellness activity of choice on your calendar. Just remember: being well-rested and happy will make you a much better resident.
Expectation is the mother of all frustration. For example, if you are a runner and you plan to run 5 days a week during your busiest rotation of intern year you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Setting realistic goals can help.
- Start each rotation by sharing your time commitments, both in and outside of the hospital, with your loved ones.
- Give your loved ones access to your calendar so they can understand your time commitments.
- Something as simple as a well organized family calendar can go a long way in both you and your partner’s wellness throughout residency.
- Holidays often mean you are staffing the department or carrying the house pager. As soon as you know your availability, have a conversation with your loved ones.
Intern year requires significant workload and many hours spent in the hospital. Managing and minimizing fatigue is a crucial element to having a successful intern year.
- Look at your block schedule early and often to know what challenges and opportunities await.
- Schedule vacations either during or after the busy surgical and ICU rotations.
- Submit all the necessary paperwork and requests early.
- Be strategic with your schedule requests as well because most programs will grant requests by seniority.
- Allocate your time wisely and plan how to spend your free time.
Finally, no matter how much you focus on wellness, residency is a stressful time and there will be times when you feel like giving up. Lean on your support system. Hang out with your family/friends and revisit those hobbies you might have put on the back burner. Don’t forget your residency family as well. You are not alone! Sometimes all you need to do is to vent to someone who has been there.
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