10 Survival Tips for Your First Post-Residency Job

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As you begin the process of preparing to move on from medical residency, you will quickly realize just how drastically your life is about to change. Once you complete your residency, there will be a major shift from you being in the position of actively acquiring knowledge to you actively having to utilize that knowledge instead. 

First-year physicians generally have extensive options upon completing their residency programs and, in turn, a lot of uncertainty. Between deciding where you fit into the healthcare landscape, securing your first job and navigating the complex landscape from within your new place of practice, your newfound independence as a physician has likely started feeling less like the world is at your fingertips and more like a survival effort. 

Before you grab your new medical bag and head off to your new job with anxiety blooming, consider what you can do to help yourself not only survive your first post-residency job but build a solid foundation for your medical career moving forward.

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Patients First

Your patients’ health is and should always be at the core of everything you do — no matter how challenging a day may be or how chaotic a situation may get. Every patient needs and deserves your expertise, your best effort and your full attention — and your colleagues need to see that you will always put this in as well.

Make Sure You’re in the Right Place

When seeking your first job after residency, it is crucial above all else to take the time to find a place of practice that puts you on a path with options and will provide you with the right clinical fit — as well as the right cultural fit. Exploring a facility’s culture and atmosphere can prove difficult all on its own, but asking relevant questions during your interviews, speaking with staff members and doing your research can help a lot. 

Connect with the Right People

As a new physician entering your first post-residency job, you are undoubtedly going to be interviewing with some incredible doctors. If you have found yourself working in a facility with one of them, make sure to benefit and learn from this amazing opportunity. Connecting with other colleagues, from nurses to administrative professionals, is equally important, as making friendships at work can improve your well-being.

Become Part of the Team

In addition to respecting the environment that you have joined, you will want to become an active part of it. Though there may be a significant amount of responsibilities that fall entirely onto you as a physician, they wouldn’t be possible to accomplish efficiently (or possibly even at all) without your team. Make sure to put time and effort into getting to know your colleagues, offering to help out whenever and however you can, establishing and maintaining open lines of communication and asking questions.

Make Time for Your Health, Too

Full meals and quality sleep may seem like luxuries as a new physician working long and busy shifts, but it is important to remember that these impacts on your life can and will take you down. It is a necessity to support your own physical and mental well-being and to watch for signs of burnout. Simple initiatives such as scheduling meal and snack times (and making them healthy and nutritious options), break times, exercise time, uninterrupted sleep time and undisturbed you time can make a significant impact of their own, too.

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Pick the Proper Tools

Tech, equipment and supply choices may seem simple on the surface, but if you’re not cautious and calculated in your decisions, you may end up with tools that underperform — and, in turn, so will you. Considering that you use your tools every single day without question, reliability and durability will be essential qualities to look for, but it goes beyond being just reliable. The stethoscope that was recommended for you as a student was likely reliable, but it may not compare at all to the stethoscope that you should be upgrading to for your new position. Always make sure that you are not only using the right tool for the job, but the best and most appropriate version of it.

Ask Questions

While you did acquire an immeasurable amount of knowledge during your time in medical school and throughout your residency, perhaps the most important thing to remember moving forward is that you don’t know everything — and that that’s okay. Curious, interested and inquisitive are much more appealing qualities in a new physician than “smart” alone could ever be. There will be a steep learning curve, but you will improve quickly. 

Time May Feel Sparse, But Don’t Rush

Your first post-residency job is likely going to feel busier, more stressful and more important than any other step in the process so far. You are going to want to race through everything to make a good impression and to avoid falling behind — but you will make better decisions, avoid any embarrassing or risky mistakes and display a cool and collected demeanor if you just pace yourself properly. 

Utilize Professional Networks

Whether you are searching for mentoring, peer support, career development opportunities or something else in the area, support groups and specialty associations exist to fill this void and provide assistance. Most medical specialties have their own association, and becoming a member or actively participating in these channels can be extremely beneficial.

Look the Part

Even amongst the chaos of the healthcare landscape and in the whirling lives of healthcare professionals, looks matter. The first and strongest impression that a patient will get from you will be obtained by the way you look as you approach them — and starting at a new place of practice will be no different with your colleagues. Aside from making good impressions and looking professional, attire matters a lot for practical reasons. Researching and investing in appropriate footwear and wearing the right scrubs for your first post-residency job is a crucial step to invest in and can even make or break the job for you. 

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Thriving in Your First Post-Residency Job

From the years of schooling to the years of residency, the path so far has been fairly pre-defined and determined for you. Whatever path you decide to forge or take to success from this point on is entirely up to you. 

Both your personal and professional roles are bound to shift significantly upon completing your residency, and it is important to take the time while you can to prepare yourself physically, emotionally and intellectually for the changes to come. Luckily, you are on the right track, as one of the best ways to prepare yourself for these changes is to recognize them.

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