4 Ways to Stay Motivated During Medical Residency

medical residency

Residency is like being in limbo. You’re more than an intern, but technically still in-training. Staying motivated is the key to surviving this awkward time in your medical career. Keep your eye on the prize and continue pushing– you can do this. Everyone has those days when all you want to do is lay in bed and binge-watch the newest show on Netflix, but there’s far too much for you to do to prepare for your exam. Here are some ways to keep your long-term goals in close sight.

Try something new

This is your time to try things you’re unsure of, master new skills, and ask questions. Every day, try to make sure you are doing something brand new or practicing a skill that you’re not a pro at yet. These small challenges remind you that this time is important to really hone your skills so you can be confident in decisions you make when you’re on your own.

Learn your team

It seems elementary, but getting to know the people you work with on a daily basis can help in many ways. It serves as a distraction that there are lives outside of your working environment. It can be cathartic to talk to people experiencing the same problem as you and learn how they deal with emotional/stressful situations. Making friends never hurt anyone. If you have friends at work, it makes it easy to want to be there.


Whether you’re at work or not, keeping your health in mind is always a good way to feel in control of your life. “Diet and exercise!” says Andrea Paul, MD, Chief Medical Officer at BoardVitals. “When working long hours and under great stress, it is easy to resort to junk food and not exercising. Make some time to exercise, even if it’s just a 20-minute body weight workout in the call room a few times a week, or go for a walk at lunch or during a break. While it is hard to eat healthy, try to choose the salad bar over the pizza; you’ll be glad you did.”

Have a “Glass Half Full” Mindset

It’s easier said than done, but it’s critical to actively stay positive during your time in Residency. Having a positive outlook on your training and remaining focused on your goals, will make you a happier person and reduce your stress levels. When you fail, make progress out of it. Channel that failure to better yourself, rather than focusing on the negatives. You are the one in charge of your training, so make sure you are making it a positive experience. At the end of the day, you are only going to get out what you put into it, so make sure you are making the best of it.

Want more tips? Check out Medscape’s Be the Best Resident: 10 Tips for Success. Medscape. May 25, 2016.

The writing staff at BoardVitals is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and education. We’ve trained over 1.5 million physicians and work with more than 300 top teaching institutions. Learn more about our board review and continuing education products at boardvitals.com.

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