Sharing their thoughts on the transition of podiatry college students into residency, these residency program directors offer advice on academic, personal, logistical and mental preparations the newly-matched student can pursue before he or she begins residency training.
Now that students have hopefully matched to their residency program of choice, how do you feel they should use these next few months to prepare academically to begin residency? Are there any texts, journals, manuals or online resources they should secure or become familiar with before July?
All three of the panelists agree that obtaining a copy of and familiarizing oneself with the program’s Resident Manual is a crucial first step. William Urbas, DPM, FACFAS and Lawrence Fallat, DPM, FACFAS additionally state that reviewing common medications, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain medications, that physicians prescribe for podiatric patients in the hospital is also helpful. Dr. Fallat continues to say that a review of lower extremity anatomy and typical surgical cases along with practicing suturing and writing prescriptions will also help the new resident hit the ground running.
David Bernstein, DPM, FACFAS relates that incoming residents are invited to his program’s journal club, weekly educational lectures and workshops if they have time to attend.
“Students can also check the literature and see if there are any existing studies published by program staff. That will give them a good idea about the program’s interest in publication of case reports or research,” says Dr. Fallat, Director of the Beaumont Hospital – Wayne Podiatric Residency Program in Wayne, Mich.
What important personal or logistical steps should these prospective residents take between now and beginning residency? Is there anything current or past residents have communicated they wish they had done prior to starting at the program?
Incoming residents can expect to receive all communication information for the residents, the program coordinator, attending physicians and the program director, says Dr. Bernstein, the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Drs. Fallat and Urbas say this is important as they both suggest that visiting the program and/or contacting current residents for advice can also help ease the transition. Dr. Fallat recommends reviewing the program website to clarify information such as duty hours, activities and salary.
Freeing up the month of June as much as possible can be an asset, says Dr. Urbas, the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program with the Crozer-Keystone Health System in Delaware County, Pa.
“A first-year resident’s life is very busy and hectic so every advantage one can gain before the program starts is very important,” advises Dr. Urbas.
He adds that the hospital system may also require the incoming resident to complete pre-employment processing during the month of June, including computer training, health screenings and credentialing.
In this era when mental health issues and burnout are prevalent among physicians, what can newly-matched students do to prepare mentally and emotionally for the rigors of residency and future practice? Do you have any resources you recommend for this purpose?
Dr. Fallat relates that program directors understand that podiatric residency can be a demanding job that involves a lot of hard work. As such, he shares that many programs have mentoring systems that are worth investigating. Dr. Fallat adds that residents should also know that there are designated people in the program they should seek out if they are feeling burned out. Lastly, Dr. Fallat relates that his program has wellness days that include activities to reduce stress and burnout.
Leaning on the more senior residents is what Dr. Urbas recommends for incoming residents when it comes to dealing with stress or emotional challenges as they begin their training. Recognizing that residents progress at different rates, this mentoring and assistance is available as long as they are necessary, according to Dr. Urbas. He also shares that residents beginning his program can expect periodic lectures on stress and wellness, workshops and social gatherings to aid in mental and emotional health during training.
Dr. Bernstein agrees that students soon beginning residency should learn about support systems that may be in place at their new program.
“Our incoming residents are invited to join medical staff health lectures covering issues such as mental and physical challenges,” maintains Dr. Bernstein. “We also invite them to resident and office social events. The best resource of all, however, is to communicate with all of our residents.”
Dr. Bernstein is the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Dr. Fallat is the Director of the Podiatric Surgical Residency at Beaumont Hospital-Wayne in Wayne, Mich. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Dr. Urbas is the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program with the Crozer-Keystone Health System in Delaware County in Pennsylvania.