Everything We Wish We Learned in Residency

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No matter where you are completing your EM residency, a solid clinical education and the opportunity to care for, and learn from, diverse and critically ill patients is essentially a given. Thanks to the dedication of our program directors and guidance from the ABEM model of clinical practice and RRC, our teachers and mentors have worked hard to ensure that at the completion of residency we will be prepared to confidently step into roles as attending physicians competent and capable of providing life saving emergency care. That’s the good news (to which I can personally attest, having just passed my ABEM written boards/qualifying examination!). There is only so much you can learn in residency and only limited time to do it! Our clinical education does come at some cost. We sacrifice time away from family, social pursuits, and other non-clinical endeavors to ensure we have the skills we need to recognize an emergency and save a life.

We are confronted with non-clinical challenges that can indirectly have a significant impact on happiness, job satisfaction, and overall wellness.

Even before we complete residency, we are confronted with non-clinical challenges that can indirectly have a significant impact on happiness, job satisfaction, and overall wellness as young physicians. From deciding what type of practice to join (academic vs. democratic group vs. independent contractor), to knowing what insurance we need (disability, life, malpractice, umbrella), to investment and retirement planning, to deciding to buy or rent a home, we are suddenly faced with major decisions that many of us feel less than prepared to handle. Making the wrong decisions in some of these areas can be extremely costly, both financially and emotionally. In limited time, with limited knowledge, we are making decisions that set the foundation for when we may be able to retire (and with what revenue stream), as well as how we will spend our professional lives. Many for-profit corporations and advisors with the potential for bias have become rich by sometimes taking advantage of physicians who don’t know what questions to ask or what services or products they really need.

Depressing, right? What can we do to bring our financial and professional knowledge up to par with our solid clinical skills?

Here’s the good news! EMRA, working closely with the ACEP Young Physicians Section and our ACEP board liaison, Dr. Paul Kivela, plan to work to empower us and fill in the knowledge gap we face when starting our first “real job” as independent practicing physicians.

We realize one size doesn’t fit all and that unique situations regarding debt, family, personal goals, and career aspirations make providing relevant information to our membership a lofty goal. Our vision is to provide you with content experts and experiences from successful leaders who are as diverse in their situations as you are. We want you to decide what experiences and goals resonate with you, and to feel free to reach out to the authors. More importantly, we want to hear from you if there are areas beyond those I’ve outlined here that we can champion for you. E-mail me and tell us what you want to know. Alumni members, tell us what you wish you knew when starting out in practice.

This project is still evolving, but you can expect a series of articles in EM Resident (online and in print), as well as highlights in What’s Up, and live programming at our conferences to begin to tackle our goals and empower you with the right questions to ask when choosing a financial advisor, buying a home, joining a practice, etc.

What do you think? Please share your ideas and feedback with our team by e-mailing me to help us make this project as beneficial to you, our members, as it possibly can be!

Matt Rudy, MD
Matt Rudy, MD completed his residency training at the Washington University in St. Louis. Having served as an EMRA Program Representative, Regional Representative, and as Speaker of the Council, he was elected as EMRA President-Elect in 2013.
Matt Rudy, MD

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