5 Things I Never Learned in Med School

Krishna B. Patel, MD


August 22, 2016

After hours of studying and taking various standardized tests, by the time you are ready to graduate medical school, you likely will have accumulated the medical knowledge that you need as a foundation. However, there are a few additional things that I wish I had known before starting residency. Here are five tips you probably weren't taught in medical school that may help you succeed in residency.

1. How to Multitask

As a resident, you will soon learn that the best way to be successful is to learn how to multitask. Between all of the responsibilities that will be given to you as a resident, you will realize that you are bound to forget something! The best way to multitask is to make notes and lists of items left to complete, checking off each task from the list as it is completed. This way, when multiple tasks are thrown your way at the same time, you will be able to complete them all in a reasonable fashion without forgetting any of them. Also, try to get into a routine regarding the order in which you complete these tasks, as that will leave less room for error.

In addition to all of the items on your checklist to complete during the day, you will have various other responsibilities to finish outside of the workday, such as grand rounds or journal club presentations, research projects to complete, and reading to finish. It is important to plan for these ahead of time so that you are able to manage your time wisely and so you don't find yourself rushed to beat deadlines.

2. How to Develop Career Goals

It's important to determine during residency your long-term goal regarding where you see your career going. What is the next step after you are done with your residency? Is fellowship on the horizon? Take advantage of the different opportunities given to you during residency to help you determine the trajectory you want your career to take once you are done with your training. Use your time in residency to figure out whether you'd prefer to stay in an academic setting or would rather be in a private or group practice. Do you want to be in a position where you work with residents and medical students, or do you prefer to focus heavily on research? Talk with your mentors and attendings to suss out the advantages and disadvantages of each and to figure out which would be the right option for you.


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