Day in the Life of a Resident & Core Attributes: Family Medicine

Residency Application Specialists

Family Medicine is a broad area of Medicine, with a great number of programs and residents progressing through it. You will already have experienced it to some extent, but it’s vital to have an accurate conceptualisation of what your days will be like, and thus what attributes are vital to emphasise.

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Day in the Life of a Family Medicine Resident

The following is a rough day in the life of a PGY1 Family Medicine resident.

5.30am-6am: Some programs, or some parts of your program, will begin this early. Remember that a significant part of first year is made up of general rotations, and you will therefore be expected to cover rounds early in the morning, place orders, update family members on cases, etc. However, for the purpose of this ‘day a life’ you are being permitted a relaxed lie in.

8am: First patients. Expect to see patients from 8am to 12am, and (for a first year) to cover all of family medicine, paediatrics, general surgery, ob/gyn, internal medicine, ICU, and emergency medicine. A family medicine clinic will typically see the first patient scheduled at 8am, and the final patient scheduled around 11.15-11.30am. Common cases will include anything from peds cases through to geriatrics, as one would expect. You’ll be tasked with seeing patients, taking a history and performing examinations as appropriate, creating a management plan, and then presenting thoughts to the attending for their input.

12:00: Lunch. You will likely have some form of educational activity over lunch, like a conference or lecture series. This will be either led by a resident or an attending, and you may be required to input interesting cases from first year onwards. Expect to discuss cases with reference to board exam requirements in the early years, although this may shift more towards a specific interest or article format as time goes on. There may also be the chance to assess articles together in first year.

13:00 – 17:00 Patients. As with the morning, expect to see a real variety of different cases. This can be very tiring, with some family medicine residents finding the consistent flow of patients and wildly different presentations to be exhausting – especially considering the amount of admin work that those in other residencies might be undertaking in comparison. Nonetheless, this is why you’ve selected this path, and thus it’s key to find the reward in this process. Be realistic and remember that many patients will present with non-specific symptoms or a case for which a clear management plan is difficult to provide.

17:00 – bed: Free time. It’s advisable to spend time bonding with others or working alongside them to cover core educational content (at least some nights of the week), rather than running home immediately to watch Netflix. Family Medicine is comparatively lighter in terms of workload than other residencies, and you’d do well to recognise this and embrace it to be as productive as possible. Equally, dedicating time to yourself and other interests is vital, and you should be ready to explain how these are of benefit to you in reducing stress during your interview.

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Core Attributes of Family Medicine Residents

Family Medicine, perhaps more so than any other branch, is one in which you will see a wide range of different patients, with very varied presentations and varied concerns. It is therefore vital that you are empathetic and a strong communicator. These two attributes stand out in particular for this area, and you must be ready to reflect on them and demonstrate them at interview. Empathy will ensure that you are able to listen well to patients, understand their concerns, and quickly and efficiently develop productive relationships with them that ensure that they receive the treatment that they need. Communication skills play alongside this, and will be tested by the range of cases that you see, the relatively short times in which you must consult patients, and the fact that you will need to then relay information on such a broad array of patients on to attendings.

Organisation and time management will also be vital, so you should be prepared to discuss how you handle your time, and how a complex and varied workload will not be an issue.

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