10 ways to make residency less stressful

The upgraded responsibility and authority given to starting residents is both a blessing and a curse. Suddenly, the need for co-signatures vanishes. There is greater autonomy in clinical practice. Residents get paid. However, residency can also be a time of significant stress. Residents are forced to navigate the demands of preceptors, other residents, medical students, nurses, patients, family members, and administrators. Residents have very little control over what they do, when they do it, or how they do it. The hours are long, and the density of the work is intense. Residents are the duct tape that holds academic hospitals together, but it can feel thankless.

1. Take care of yourself first. Being an effective clinician requires a sharp mind, and residency picks away at the elements that sustain it — things like sleep, nutrition, exercise, and socialization. Take care of yourself first. However small, what time you have control over, protect fiercely. Being strict with your time doesn’t mean you never go the extra mile, but sacrificing self-care needs to be the exception, not the expectation. If you let residency take anything it wants from you, it will quickly suck you dry.

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