Amy Bailey, MD, FAAFP
When I started my Family Medicine residency, it was such a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by people who had the same goal as I had – to become a fantastic Family Medicine physician. There were twelve of us, and we were all eager to begin our three-year journey.
However alike we were in goals, we all came from very different backgrounds – we also had very different futures planned. You see, life happens while you’re on this path. Some of us were single, some were married, some had kids, others did not. Some had military obligations, others wanted to practice rural, inner-city, you name it – we were all going to do very different things.
During my three-year residency:
- 4 of my classmates had children;
- 1 resident in the class before me, died;
- 1 resident had a parent die;
- 1 resident had a spouse diagnosed with cancer;
- 1 resident got into a bad car accident;
- 1 resident had a child that required a long NICU stay;
- 1 resident got a divorce.
In the three years of my residency, there were also countless dinners, get-togethers, pat-on-the backs, cry-sessions, support groups, parties, two weddings (including my own) and many other joyous occasions that brought us all together.
You see, life still happens while you’re in residency. Likely, if you are reading this you are a medical student or resident considering our program. ACGME provides very little wiggle room in policies for anything besides being a resident physician and their policies don’t take your personal life into account.
So, where you do your residency matters. The culture of the place you choose to do residency should show you what to expect from a program. When considering a program, try to discover their culture. How do you do this? Ask yourself, faculty and others the right questions.
Are the faculty happy? Are the residents happy? What kind of work-life balance do the faculty/residents have? What are the expectations? Who is available when I have questions? Is wellness a buzzword or a real concern?
My advice to all medical students and resident candidates is to find a place where you can grow as a physician but also where you will be supported – through the good and the bad.
If you need help, we will help you. If you need back up, we’ve got you. Do you need an elective in third trimester? We’ll do that. Need an elective postpartum? We can do that too. Have a problem that seems impossible? We’ll figure it out. That’s the kind of culture we have here. We are a new residency which means we are open to solving problems in new ways.
One of our strengths is that we know, we get it. What happens to you in life affects the kind of physician you will be. It is through the eyes of a mother/wife/daughter/friend that I am a better physician. It is also these experiences that help me be a better attending.