Preparing for Intern Year

Claire McDaniel, MD | Liana Tedesco, MD

April 12, 2022


Congratulations – You matched! You can take a deep sigh of relief. You are going to be an orthopedic surgeon. But… Now, what? As a group of people who love to plan, we are sure you are wondering what to do next. In today’s post, we hope to give you some of the advice we wish we had when we were in your shoes.

1Enjoy the End of Fourth Year

The most important thing to know for preparing for your intern year is to remember that you’ve made it. Medical school is an incredibly tough slog, and by choosing to go into such a competitive specialty your path has been even harder. The few months at the end of your fourth year of medical school should be a time to be with friends from school, to focus on yourself, and to remember that you should celebrate your successes! You will be a better resident for taking the time to focus on self-care.

2Reach Out to Your New Classmates

You are about to spend five years in the orthopedic trenches with your new classmates. Reach out to them! Start a group chat. Host a virtual happy hour. Get to know each other. If you can, try to arrange a local meet up. It is so important to have support throughout residency and your classmates will be your best resource. The sooner your forge bonds, the deeper and more long lasting they will be.

3Finding a Place to Live

You know where you will be working, but where do you live? This can be a source of stress for new residents, but there are a lot of resources. First, you should reach out to current residents and ask where they live. They will likely be your best resource – they may even know about available apartments. Find out if your hospital offers subsidized housing nearby. Need a roommate? Ask your classmates! You can check with your chiefs or residency coordinator to get you connected with other incoming PGY-1s in other departments.  

4Get Your Finances in Order

For many of you, residency may be the first time that you are earning a real salary—which is beyond exhilarating in many ways. There are important considerations, however, to prepare for your financial stability in residency and beyond. All surgeons should strongly consider own-occupation disability insurance, so that if something impacts your ability to operate, you’re able to continue to have an income. Further, you should see if your residency program offers 401(k) or 403(b) retirement accounts, or even IRAs, and contribution matching. It can be tough to consider retirement accounts before you’ve even started your career, but these are easy ways to make sure that you’re in a strong financial position and to maximize the benefits offered by your residency program. If able, even consider meeting with a financial planner to help streamline your household’s finances before the stresses of residency take over.

5Don’t Study

Although it may be difficult, try not to stress about memorizing treatment algorithms or fracture classifications. These are things that can be learned once you start residency. You should focus on getting settled in your new life, not studying. Most of the learning you will do as a resident is from experience. Once you get there, take a lot of notes, and add to them as your progress throughout residency. Whether this is the code to the bathroom, directions to the OR, best way to document a consult, or steps for an intramedullary nail for an intertrochanteric fracture, the more you document, the easier it is to remember.

Remember, you reached your goal, and you should be very proud of yourself! Take pride in what you have accomplished and remember, the first impression is the most important one. Show up on day one with a good attitude. Be ready to work hard and learn. It is a tough and rewarding five years and you are just at the beginning.


DISCLOSURES: Dr. McDaniel a close family member who works for Ferring Pharmaceuticals (makes Euflexxa). Dr. Tedesco This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2021 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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