Updated: Sep 20, 2019
It's that time of the year. July 1st is almost here and hospitals around the country will welcome in their new interns. To those starting on the wards as interns, this series is for YOU! If you are transitioning from your prelim intern year into your first year of residency, you have ANOTHER daunting start ahead of you. We're sharing advice from SheMD authors on how to not only SURVIVE but THRIVE during your intern year and your first year of residency! Wishing you all the best next week. You CAN do this!
The transition from internal medicine or surgery intern to Radiology resident (or any other residency) feels daunting to most. I certainly felt this way as I stepped off the floors of the ward and into the reading room. Beginning a residency is similar to learning a new language; some words are vaguely familiar and context clues can be helpful, but ultimately you are starting from scratch. Having said that, the transition to residency is challenging, exciting, and fulfilling.
Here are my recommendations for success as you begin your journey into residency.
1. Commit to true learning
Resist the temptation to attempt to quickly memorize information. Take every opportunity to ask your attending physicians for the why and the how of making the diagnosis. This includes asking for their search pattern and seeking a pathophysiologic explanation for making the diagnosis. Take time to read the patient’s chart, reviewing their history and labs. While more time-intensive than rote memorization, true understanding of both the approach to image interpretation and its underlying pathophysiology will accelerate your learning, working toward achieving proficiency in caring for your patients.
2. Ask every question
Really - ask EVERYTHING! Your first year of residency is the time to exercise your curiosity and ask as many questions as possible. Always speak up if something doesn’t make sense. Nobody was born a radiologist (or whatever specialty you're pursuing); you’re a rookie! Our ultimate goal as in residency is to provide excellent patient care; therefore, it is your ethical duty to ask every question you have as they arise. This will not only help you in your journey to learning your specialty, it will also demonstrate to your attending physicians that you are engaged and committed to your education.
3. 10 pages a day
One of the things that helped me immensely during radiology residency was setting “micro-goals” for myself. If reading an entire chapter is too daunting, try to commit to reading 10 pages a day. If you’ve had a rough day and 10 pages sounds like too much, commit to reading 1 page. I guarantee that once you get started, you’ll likely read more than you thought you could. 10 pages per day over the course of a 4-year residency adds up to 14,600 pages!
· Make an effort to connect not only with your co-residents and attendings, but also the team around you - the nurses, radiology technologists, sonographers, respiratory therapists, and referring clinicians that you encounter during your residency. Building a foundation of trust with your colleagues encourages open communication and results in better patient outcomes. This also serves as an opportunity for you to learn from the professionals who play other roles in caring for our patients. Another important way to connect is via social media. Twitter has a thriving physician community that will help you network and remain engaged in current affairs in your field.
· As a woman in radiology (and most fields in medicine), you are a minority. Currently, only 21% of radiologists are women. That means that YOU play a critical role in recruiting the next generation of women in radiology. Take time to connect with medical students rotating with you. Speak at a interest group meeting for your specialty at your affiliated medical school. Join organizations that support women in your field, such as the American Association for Women in Radiology (it’s free!). Get involved in your state society to keep up with current legislation affecting our patients and profession. Diversity in medicine promotes innovation, improved communication, and better care for our patients. Help young women see your field as the dynamic, challenging, and exciting field that it is: critical to the care of all patients.