Preparing for Intern Year: What I Wish I Had Done

Elizabeth Ansert

By Elizabeth Ansert.

The spring and summer before I began residency was a double edge sword at times. I was compelled to study and review lower extremity anatomy, surgical technique, and pharmacology in preparation for my intern year. At the same time, I was told that I should enjoy my time off because of the lack of free time after July 1st. So, which did I do? I listened to my trusted friends in the years above me and spent most of my time off. I did study here and there, but this was during my downtime on rainy days or waiting for my plans later that day to start. I did try to maintain some hand skills through practice, local community outreach events, and a medical mission to Uganda, but these were fewer between than my third year.

…I wish I had made some time for myself to brush up on some things like I had planned after interviews.

Once I completed my orientation and started my first month of residency, I felt like I had a lot of skills and knowledge to dust off. It had been quite a which since I was asked to name all the antibiotics that can treat a pseudomonas infection outpatient or all the angles to be examined when evaluating a pediatric flat foot. While I made a lot of good memories and became closer than ever to my “pod family” those last few months, I wish I had made some time for myself to brush up on some things like I had planned after interviews.

Crucial to almost everything, I wished I had found the balance between work and play. As a 1st-3rd year student, that ratio is definitely more in favor of the work. Then, we slowly become more proficient at finding what works best for us and how we learn quickly. We also are more able to pick out important information, develop our hand skills, and think logically through surgical techniques. As a 4th-year student who has completed externships and boards, finished interviews, and matched at a program, often people wonder what is left to do besides wait. However, I feel like this was also when my learning potential was at a peak. I had been exposed to not only the book answers of things but also the practical knowledge from clinics and externships. So, finding the balance that works for you between reviewing and building the knowledge you have and rejuvenating your motivation and emotional health is something I wish I had done those last months before residency started.


For literature to review, hindsight showed me that these resources were helpful:

  • Prism
  • McGlamery’s Textbook
  • Chang’s Surgical Text
  • Anatomy Texts
  • Recent Journal Articles and Lectures
  • Microbiology and Pharmacology Reviews


Hindsight 2020Your specific program may have more insight into what you should review or look over, if anything. Every program has a different emphasis, thoughts, and resources. Everyone’s work/life balance is different, but staying sharp and not having to dust off as much knowledge and hand skills when your residency starts is something I wish I had done. Best of luck to everyone! I hope this new chapter in your career is everything you’ve worked so hard for.

By Elizabeth Ansert.


Hindsight in 2020

Special Edition, 4th year 

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