June 29, 2018 was my last day of residency. After 3 years of intense medical training, 28-hour shifts, and intermittent episodes of burnout and fatigue — I was finally done. It felt absolutely surreal and honestly, it didn’t sink in for quite a while. Is this really happening? It this REALLY my last day as a resident? It felt like my last day of high school all over again. We’ve gone through years and years of schooling and training, and now we’re finally on our own. I certainly felt prepared and ready to start my life as an attending, but there was a tiny part of me that was slightly freaking out because I no longer had the security blanket of being a trainee.
As unreal as it felt, I was beyond excited to finally accomplish this goal and start a new chapter in my life. My co-residents (who have pretty much become family) are all pursuing different endeavors from chief year to fellowship to moving to different cities. It was the last time we’d all be together — the end of an era — and boy, did we celebrate.
For anyone out there finishing up residency, school, or any training program, here are my tips to make the most of your last days as a student or trainee:
- Learn as much as you can. Soak up as much knowledge as possible because the best time to learn is right NOW. While you’re still a student or resident, your main priorities should be to learn and to gain as much experience as possible. Read up on topics that you’re still not completely sure about, ask questions, and volunteer to do things that make you uncomfortable. It’s the only way to grow, and it’ll definitely help prepare you for the next chapter.
- Talk to your mentors for guidance. This is incredibly important! At the end of residency, I asked my mentors for help regarding the job application process, contract negotiations, and even general life advice. Make sure to pick the brains of people that you look up to. They have so much to share, and they are likely going to be very willing to help you — all you have to do is ask!
- Capture the moments. Whether or not you’re into posting on social media, you’ll want to remember these moments later on. During residency, I was somewhat of an unofficial historian for our group of friends. Not every picture made it onto social media for one reason or another, but it’s so much fun to look back and see how far everyone has come.
- HAVE FUN and CELEBRATE — you deserve it! This totally speaks for itself but once you’re done, make sure you do something BIG to celebrate. You’ve gone through so much and you’ve accomplished your goals. It’s time to finally be free, take that trip you wanted, and/or buy yourself that thing you’ve been wanting for a long time. Treat yourself, boo!
On our last day, my friends and I did an impromptu photoshoot in front of our hospital. Our residency program didn’t do formal graduation pictures, so we decided to do our own! Check it out: