Pre-Residency Evaluation #illumedati

Hey everyone! It’s Medicine Mondays, and the last few months have been filled with Match Day Excitement and my Post-Match Checklist. This continued into The House Buying Itch – Post-Match Edition. I do plan to continue on with an interview series about buying a house in residency with Dr. E and Dr. K, however, I haven’t been able to talk to them yet. But it’s now the end of April, so instead of Post-Match, it’s time for the Pre-Residency Evaluation. This should be a pretty short post.

Stock Photo from: Pexels

What’s a Pre-Residency Evaluation?

Well, you are entering a new phase in your life. While nothing can truly prepare you for residency, you should do your best to try to control the small things that you can control. I talk about this in my Priorities Series 1, 2, and 3. In general, it’s time to take stock in what you do with your time to maximize the little free time you will have during residency.

What do you mean?

The majority of your weekends will be taken up with either half day or a weekend call. You will need to be vigilant about planning any days you have off to do other things. This could be as simple as laying on the couch binge-watching Gilmore Girls, or be as adventurous as driving out to the lake for a day. Either way, try to maximize your time away from the hospital.

The easiest way to do this to make sure all your other things are taken care of. Some of this is a rehash from my Priorities series, but I think it’s worth reiterating.

Do your laundry on a regular schedule.

As annoying as it is, you will probably need to laundry every week, or maybe stretch it to every other week. I hope you got an apartment with its own washer/dryer.

Pick a day that works for you. If Wednesday is a clinic day and you get home at a reasonable time, then get home and throw all your clothes in the washer right when you get home. It should be like clockwork.

“Don’t make me think.”

Have a default comfort meal to fall back on.

It’s Friday, and normally you would be able to get home early and be able to cook up your world famous chicken parm. However, this particular Friday there was a late admit that needed to go straight to the ICU, so you stayed late to make sure the patient hand off was complete. Unfortunately, it’s now 8pm and you’re just getting home. There’s no time to make your world famous chicken parm.

It’s been snowing so it’s -10 degrees outside and you don’t want to stay out any longer than necessary. Also, you’re on call tomorrow and need to come in for 7 am.

Lucky for you, you have a default comfort meal to fall back on. Your Digornio’s Pepperoni Pizza. You toss that in the oven and get a quick shower. Once you get out you eat your comforting pizza on your couch as you watch whatever is on. Pick your favorite comfort meal and make sure you have it in stock at all time.

“Don’t make me think.”

Plan your vacations.

This is something I didn’t do very well.

For most residencies, you will be given your vacations at the start of the academic year in July. There isn’t all that much wiggle room after that. Once you get those times, make plans to use those days off wisely.

I would advise that at least one of those weeks is used for visiting family. You won’t be seeing them much during residency, and you’ll be so busy you probably won’t notice. However, your family will miss you, even if you live nearby.

As an intern, I would advise you set aside one of those weeks to take and pass Step 3. Everyone likes to use the adage:

“2 months for Step 1, 2 weeks for Step 2, Number 2 pencil for Step 3.”

While Step 3 is considered the “easiest”, it’s still a test that you need to study for and pass. It isn’t something you want hanging over your head during your last year of residency. While sacrificing one of your weeks of vacation to Step 3 doesn’t seem very pleasant, I think it’s necessary. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the whole week. If you can, look at your schedule and try put one of your weeks of vacation after a light rotation. Then during the rotation, study for Step 3, with plans to take it on the Monday or Tuesday of your week off. Then you’ll have at least Wednesday-Sunday left of your week off to do whatever you want.


This one is hard. I tried and failed miserably at this during residency. However, I think this should be a priority.

I’m not saying you have to go do cross-fit 5x a week or spinning everyday, but something as simple as going for a walk after dinner is helpful.

Study Shows Walking an Hour a Day Achieves Greatest Longevity Benefit


The TL;DR of that article is T”he study found that most of the longer-life benefit possible is reached by getting the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity.”

Of course, if are able to go the gym everyday, that’s great. However it’s good to know that:

  • Walking 7 hours a week
  • Biking leisurely 5 hours a week
  • Running at a 10 minute-per-mile pace for 2 hours and 15 minutes a week

will provide a longevity benefit.

Take care of your mental health

I’ve written about Physician Suicide before, and the stigma that comes with needing mental health in the medical field.

Please be aware if you begin to exhibit signs of depression during residency and get the help you need. More so than that, if you notice a co-intern or other resident colleague going through a particular rough patch, talk to them about it.

My intern class for prelim medicine back at Staten Island Community Hospital was a really good group. I remember certain interns going through rough times and the other interns trying to help out. More so than this, the conversation about depression was started early and without stigma. I believe that helped some of my co-interns get the help they needed to continue on.


“Don’t Make Me Think.”

Try to have a backup plan in place for household chores and food.

Plan your vacations.

Take (and pass) Step 3 as an intern.

Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.



Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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