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Easing into Residency: Transition Tips

While you are looking forward to this next step in your medical career, you may also be experiencing mixed feelings of excitement as well as trepidation about the decisions that you have to make in a short period of time. The following suggestions are provided to help you address important issues and to help you transition from medical school to residency.

Manage Your Finances

  • Determine when and how you will be paid—weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. If direct deposit is available, take advantage of it -- it’s the easiest way to have your paycheck deposited into your bank account.
  • Understand the repayment terms and relative cost of the loans in your portfolio and take full advantage of your rights as a borrower. If you have questions, contact your loan servicer(s).
  • Establish a system for maintaining financial records. Get organized. Review the Debt Management Relies on Good Record-Keeping fact sheet.
  • Determine what type of insurances (Disability, Accident, Life, Malpractice, etc.) you will need as well as how much you will need.
  • Create a budget. This will help you live within your means. Review the Budgeting Basics: Managing Your Money During the Lean Years fact sheet.
  • Establish financial goals. Having goals will help you focus and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve those goals.
  • Weigh and consider the advantages and disadvantages of renting vs. buying.
lower initial costless privacy
fewer or no maintenance responsibilitiesprovides no collateral (no equity)
no long-term commitment (beyond lease term)rental costs may increase with each lease term


with a fixed rate mortgage, monthly payment will remain constant

maintenance is the homeowner’s responsibility
builds equity over timeability to quickly relocate may be reduced
interest and property taxes may be tax deductiblegenerally requires higher initial cost (down payment and closing costs)

Manage Your Time

  • Determine your work/duty hours as well as any vacation time. Build in time for yourself.
  • What is the policy for sick leave, FMLA, maternity, and military service? Know the policy before you need to use it.
  • What is the policy for Continuing Medical Education?

Survival Tips

  • Stick to major texts and journals specific to your area of training. You won't have time to read everything.
  • Leave the hospital on your time off and do something that you enjoy.
  • Exercise professionalism at all times. Remember: you are part of a health care team

General Tips

  • Make a copy of your diploma before framing it.
  • Read your contract carefully.
  • Keep your student loan information well labeled and close by so that you can easily find it.
  • Make sure you have money saved for USMLE Step III.
  • Know what support services are available to you. Check with your residency program coordinator for assistance.