Five Tips for Relocating During Medical Training

Megan L. Fix, MD


August 28, 2012


Do you have any advice on relocating to a new city for residency or an away rotation?

Response from Megan L. Fix, MD
Associate Residency Director, Emergency Medicine, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City

This is an excellent question and one of the benefits, I think, of the medical training experience. Although it's difficult, moving from place to place for medical school, away rotations, and residency gives you great perspective on how the practice of medicine differs throughout the country. You can enrich your training and personal life by experiencing new hospitals and cultures and making friends.

There is, however, a huge hassle when it comes to moving around all the time, especially when you are strapped for cash as a medical student. Here are some tips to help make your transition a little easier.

Ask for Help Finding Housing

Often, students will search general Websites, such as, for housing when they are planning an away rotation or moving to a new place.

I encourage you to talk to your residents first. In many programs, residents "pass on" their apartments to new residents when they leave. These places are not on craigslist and are usually available in June when interns arrive. They are usually close to the hospital, affordable, or otherwise desirable for residents -- or else they wouldn't be passed to others "in the family."

So, even though you may not know the residents yet, email the coordinator and ask her or him to get in touch with them by email. Introduce yourself and say that you will be coming to do an away rotation or internship and would love some leads on housing.

Furthermore, some hospital systems have a database of apartments for rent, or reduced-cost housing for residents. Some places even have housing that is free for rotating students. Make sure to ask about this before you go on your own looking for a place to live.

Get Your Family Set Up With Video Chat

Even though you might be far from family during residency, it's important to stay in touch. We are fortunate now to have the capability for video chatting through smartphones and computers. Make sure that your family knows how to use this technology before you leave so that you can have face-to-face time, so to speak, when you are busy and unable to travel.

Attend Social Events

Despite what you may think, attending the hospital-wide social in July after settling in to a new place is a really good idea. Your new intern classmates will probably be instant friends, but you can also try to make friends outside your specialty.

In fact, I highly encourage you to attend all the social events you can in the first few months to establish a network. Try to get to know not only your colleagues, but also their spouses and significant others. It is wonderful to have friends outside of medicine to grab a drink, see a sporting event, or just hang out with during free time.

Consider a Recurring Recreational Activity

If you have a hobby such as soccer, softball, singing, or music, consider finding a league or group in your city to join. The resident lifestyle may preclude you from being involved in something every week, but if you can be a part of an outside activity with people totally separate from the hospital, it can be very healing. Good ideas are "pick-up" games that anyone can attend, or a free weekly bike ride that meets at a cycle shop.

Open Up Your House

Friendship is one of the most precious things about residency. Especially in the winter months, residency can drag you down. If you are feeling a lack of social activity in your life, have friends over for drinks -- and make it BYOB so you don't have to worry about spending too much money.

Consider starting a monthly dinner with your intern cohort, and make a schedule so that everyone has no excuse not to participate. The more time you spend together, the more you help each other through it.

Residency goes by really fast, so make the most of the time in your city. It may seem like a long time to be somewhere, but -- especially if you move again when you become an attending -- try to nurture friendships and hobbies through it.


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