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What Are Med School Residencies Really Like?

The residency is one of the last steps toward becoming a full-fledged doctor. It's an exciting, stressful, amazing learning experience, and I am right in the middle of it as a resident at the Duluth Family Practice Center in Minnesota.

The residency is one of the last steps toward becoming a full-fledged doctor. It’s an exciting, stressful, amazing learning experience, and I am right in the middle of it as a resident at the Duluth Family Practice Center in Minnesota. I received my undergraduate degree in biology from The College of St. Scholastica, also in Duluth, and I graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.

Honestly, our schedules change all the time, but that is part of the fun. With two- to six-week rotations in everything from cardiology to pediatrics, you get to experience all the different facets of medicine. So, even though our rotations change from month to month, here’s my attempt at a day in the life of a resident (namely, me!):

7:00–8:00 a.m.
Examine my patients who are currently in the hospital, continuity patients from our clinic.

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Meet with my current preceptor (the attending physician). Examine patients in clinic, where I will come up with a differential diagnosis and treatment plan. The attending may change or add to my treatment plan, which is a great learning tool for me. This month is my dermatological rotation. I’ve been doing a bunch of shave biopsies, cryotherapy, and fun dermatological procedures!

12:00–1:00 p.m.
Conference and lunch. Conference subjects vary—anything from chest pain to fetal heart tone evaluation to trauma management.

1:00–5:00 p.m.
Head over to the Family Practice Clinic, our continuity clinic. We will see patients all afternoon, with the opportunity to discuss cases with preceptors if there are any questions.

5:00–6:00 p.m.
Dictate my progress notes on the patients I’ve seen in clinic, meaning I document what happened at the visit, the physical exam, and the assessment and plan that was formulated.

6:00–7:00 p.m.
Maybe go home, or depending on the day, get to the marina for the sailboat races (I crew on the best boat ever!). Or I may go to my pottery class or even get a little exercise.

Clearly, my schedule is pretty full, but that’s okay, because I truly love what I do. Being a doctor is exciting and fulfilling, even when the work becomes stressful. At the end of those long, crazy days, it’s totally worth it. 

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