Transition: STudent to Resident
Now that the task of studying for boards and interviews is complete, there will be newly found free-time in your life. While you deserve this break from the past few months of heavy preparation, the work does not end. Below are various things I found helpful to do during the time "off" between interviews/boards and the start of residency. These have been broken down into ACADEMIC, SOCIAL, and MISC items.
Academic Items to Complete
- Reach out to current residents of your future program and ask them what they wish they prepared for looking back on their start to residency.
- Understand what types of types of procedures your program does more of, less of, etc, and start brushing up on this.
- Piggybacking off of the last point, start to review and learn common hardware sets that are used at your hospital. Read the technique guides. Watch the online videos. Know what instruments are in the set (and where they are located), steps of instrumentation use for that procedure, etc. Learn the drill / tap / screw driver sizes (e.g., ever heard of a T7 vs T10 driver? I didn’t before residency). Know the sizes of the screw not just diameter, but also length and head-type. Common sets will count length of screw by 2’s for a range, then jump to 5’s,with heads the shapes of hex, cruciate, T7/T10; this is important in screw choice during certain procedures as well as being prepared for a hardware removal.
- Pick up podiatric text book and read it front to back. In my opinion, every student should have read McGlamry‘s Comprehensive Textbook of Foot and Ankle Surgery (4th Edition) and/or Mann’s Surgery of the Foot and Ankle (9th Edition) in its entirety before graduation of podiatry school. These books lay the foundation of your knowledge, and save you time later by just needing to brush up on a specific chapter/section before a case. This also better allows you to read current journal articles on those procedures to remain up to date on the literature.
- Expanding from the last point, pick some of the more pathology specific books that may relate to your program and review them as well. This could include a book on external fixation (External Fixators of the Foot and Ankle, 1st Edition, Paul Cooper), Charcot reconstruction (e.g., Surgical Reconstruction of the Diabetic Foot and Ankle, 2nd Edition, Thomas Zgonis), total ankle replacement (e.g., Total Ankle Replacement: An Operative Manual, 1st Edition, James K. DeOrio), skin/plastics (e.g., Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery, 2nd Edition, G. Dock Dockery) , etc.*
- Stay up-to-date on journals you may have not been able to have time to read. Key ones include JAPMA, JFAS, and FAI (Foot an Ankle International). Supplements to this include Clinics of Foot and Ankle Surgery, JBJS and JAAOS (related foot/ankle topics), Foot and Ankle Specialist, and Techiques in Foot and Ankle Surgery.
- See if your schedule is already made, and start preparing for off-service rotations through reading and education like internal medicine (e.g., Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Edition, Dennis L Casper), general surgery (e.g., Surgical Recall, 8th Edition, Lorne Blackbourne), infectious disease (e.g., Mandell Douglass and Bennett’s Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases, 8th Edition, John E Bennett), etc. Find out what residents in the past used to prepare for these rotations.
- Reach out to current residents to see if they are working on any case reports, abstracts, posters, research, etc that you can give them help with ahead of time, or takeover a project for a graduating resident.
SOCIAL ITEMs to Complete
- Read a book. Any book. Not medical. Go wander around Barnes & Noble (if you can still find one) and pick something out to get a break from the medicine.
- Visit family, friends. You may be moving somewhere that will be difficult to travel between home/work for visits. Furthermore, residency often limits your outside of work free time to do these things (e.g., night or weekend call, holiday call, fatigue and need to catch up on sleep). As a side, when you do get time off, make the special effort to go see these important family and friends, even if it requires driving or flying four to five hours just for an overnight trip.
- Go on a vacation. The further/longer the better. Again once residency starts, especially as a first year, there is limited time for this. Now might be the last time you can take more than nine days in a row off (i.e., one week with flanking weekends) for a long vacation.
MISC Items to Complete
- Update your resume and cover letter. The job search is just around the corner.
- Figure out where you want to live during residency. You may have an idea, but the whole process of finding an apartment and moving can be stressful, especially with the short window between school and residency. Try to get a head start to minimize this unneeded and avoidable stress.
*Christopher R. Hood JR, DPM has no disclosures (e.g., stock, equity, or consultant status) related to the textbooks mentioned in this submission. The use of the textbook names was taken for representation purposes without bias and based on his personal medical training and experience. All opinions expressed in the presentation are that of Christopher R. Hood, DPM, and not that of the textbook publishers.