Easing into Residency: Transition Tips

December 21, 2023

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While you are looking forward to this next step in your medical career, you may also be experiencing mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation about the decisions that you must 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.

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Two doctors on escalator having conversation
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 your loans. Take full advantage of your borrower rights. 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 your insurance needs. Investigate and understand disability, accident, life, and malpractice insurance. Determine if any other type of insurance is needed. Also consider how much insurance you will need.
  • Create a budget. Budgeting will help you live within your means. Review the Budgeting Basics and Tips fact sheet.
  • Establish financial goals. Having goals will help you focus and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve your goals.
  • Determine your housing needs. Weigh and consider the advantages and disadvantages of renting vs. buying. You may want to review this recorded webinar, Home Financing for Graduating Medical Students and Residents.​ 
Advantages Disadvantages
Lower Initial cost. Less privacy.
Fewer or no maintenance responsibilities. Provides no collateral (no equity).
No long-term commitment (beyond lease term). Rental costs may increase with each lease term.
Advantages Disadvantages
With a fixed rate mortgage, monthly payment will remain constant. Maintenance is the homeowner’s responsibility.
Builds equity over time. Ability to quickly relocate may be reduced.
Interest and property taxes may be tax deductible. Generally, requires higher initial cost (down payment and closing costs).
Manage Your Time

Develop a healthy work/life balance. Determine your work/duty hours and vacation time. Take time for yourself.

Know your employer’s policies. Learn the details about sick leave, FMLA, maternity/paternity, military service leave, and other benefits. This information is helpful, especially if you need to take advantage of these employer benefits. Understanding your employer’s continuing medical education policy can also help you prepare for future expectations.

Tips to Help You
  • Read 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 always.
  • Make a copy of your diploma before framing it.
  • Read your contract carefully.
  • Keep track of student loan information by utilizing the AAMC MedLoans Organizer and Calculator (MLOC).
  • Save money and prepare for USMLE Step III.
  • Know what support services are available; your residency program coordinator can assist you.
Want More Information?

The AAMC Financial Wellness provides information on the following topics and more:

  • Budgeting and spending.
  • Buying a car.
  • Buying a home/renting an apartment.
  • Financial planning.
  • Having a baby.
  • Insurance.
  • Saving and investing.
  • Taxes.
  • Workplace transition.
  • And more.

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