A Day in the Life of a Medical Resident

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You’ve worked hard throughout your undergraduate studies and found yourself admitted to the medical school of your choice. Congratulations! You spend another four years studying, living, and breathing medicine, and now you can call yourself Doctor. However, the journey to earning a full and clear medical license is just beginning.  At this point in your medical studies, you’ll find yourself completing your medical residency.  No two program are alike, but the goal of each is similar – to train you in a hands-on, intensive medical environment to be to best medical professional that you can be.  Here is a quick overview to a day in the life of a PGY-1 (first year) medical resident. Don’t be scared – it gets better!

As a first year medical resident, you’ll set your alarm to awaken between 5 – 6 a.m. with the goal of having an energizing breakfast and a bit of exercise before you report to the hospital for your 7 a.m. shift start time. You’ll check up on overnight admits, and then the morning rounds begin, lasting for several hours as you visit each patient on your list, review his/her chart, check for any new developments or progress, and give an assessment to your team of fellow residents, medical school interns, and attending physician and nursing personnel. At this point you take a deep breath and consider a lunch break. You’ll need the energy for the afternoon.

As a first year medical resident, you are full immersed in learning deeply and intensely about medicine.  Expect to spend lots of time scrutinizing lab tests, understanding variations in patients’ vital signs, diagnosing symptoms and treatments, and charting all decisions made on behalf of your patient’s care. These open-table sessions are where the greatest amount of learning occurs.  Residents are allowed to work through diagnostics, patient well-being, course of action, and even notification of next-of-kin as part of the medical resident growth and learning process. In addition, you will rotate through a number of departments, gaining exposure to medical specialties and subspecialties and finding your niche.

Meeting mentors at McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai As a first year medical resident, expect long hours (12-16, especially higher if you are on call).  As you progress into your second and third years of your medical residency, you will continue to refine and perfect your medical skills through continued hands-on training, and you can expect to pick up additional duties that include the mentoring of younger residents and medical students. Your daily routine will include constant contact with your residential teams, the primary care physicians, and hospital personnel.  Each patient assigned to you must be evaluated on a daily basis and, depending upon his/her medical condition, may require multiple visits.

Expect your days to be long and arduous, full of learning opportunities and chances to develop the grit and temerity associated with becoming a board certified physician.  The daily training is meant to test and fine-tune your bedside manner, your diagnostic ability, your practical medical skills, and your treatment planning.  At the end of each day as a medical resident, you can be sure that you made a difference in the lives of patients, and that is why you became a doctor in the first place. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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