Easing into Residency: Transition Tips

While you're looking forward to this next step in your medical career, you may also be experiencing mixed feelings about the decisions that you have to make in a short period of time.
Two doctors on escalator having conversation
The following suggestions can help you address important issues and 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. Read 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. Read 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.


Advantages Disadvantages
Lower Intitial 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

  • Determine your work/duty hours as well as any vacation time. Build in time for yourself.
  • Find out about leave policies before you need them. Knowing the details about taking sick leave, FMLA, maternity, and military service can be helpful.
  • Obtain information abouth the policy for Continuing Medical Educationso that you can be prepared to meet expectations.

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.

Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools (FIRST)

MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator (MLOC)

young couple calculating budget
The MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator was developed to assist medical students and residents with managing their education debt.


Get practical information on budgeting, money management, credit, debt management, scholarship searches, and more.

Contact FIRST

655 K Street, NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20001-2399