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Time Management Skills for Medical Residents

by Kristine Tucker

Medical residents have diverse responsibilities and are pulled in many directions so time management skills are vital to a successful residency. Residents work long hours and assist doctors in hospitals and other medical facilities with patient needs. As a resident, you must learn to balance your academic studies with hands-on training and personal obligations. Strong organizational skills can help you meet academic deadlines and fulfill your training requirements.

Prioritize Responsibilities

Medical residents must prioritize daily and weekly duties so the most important academic goals and residency tasks are addressed quickly and effectively. The "FIRST" newsletter issued by the Association of Medical College encourages medical residents to read publications and journals that are related to their specific area of training only because there isn't enough time to read all of them. You might create a daily work chart and list your most important responsibilities first. Keeping a daily and weekly calendar can also help you meet deadlines and plan your work schedule.

Build Relationships with Senior Residents

Some residency requirements are erratic because patient needs are ever-changing. As a result, it helps to build friendships with senior medical residents so they can show you the ropes and help you manage your time, as suggested by the American Medical Association. Patients often need to be transported to different departments for testing and blood work, so residents are always on the move. A competent senior resident can instruct you on how to prep patients, quickly document and record procedures and multitask.

Work as a Team

Even though you have specific responsibilities associated with your specific area of training, level of experience and academic requirements, uniting with residency team members can make the time more productive. According to the AMA, "cohesive teams are much more likely to operate efficiently." Discussing individual and team goals on a daily basis, collaborating on patient care needs and helping each other with administrative priorities can make the day run smoothly. A team-centered environment also helps residents maintain accountability so you and your fellow residents will be less likely to procrastinate or forget important tasks.

Maintain Personal Connections

Don't let residency demands negatively affect your personal relationships or lifestyle. Even though a residency requires some give-and-take, especially on days when you're on call, make time for family members, personal hobbies, physical fitness and sleep. You might meet friends and family members for lunch, spend days off away from the hospital and invest in recreational activities. Map out your work responsibilities and hospital hours so you can plan for special activities, family outings and personal time. Talk with your supervisor about important family events, such as weddings, birthdays and holidays well in advance so you can work together to create a schedule that's healthy and balanced.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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