A Day in the Life of a Resident (2023)

A Day in the Life of a PGY-1

My name is Taylor and I’m one of the PGY1 residents. During our first year we do 6 months on orthopedic service and 6 months off service rotating through Anesthesia/Radiology, Surgical ICU, PM&R, Plastics, Trauma, and Internal Medicine. Each morning we have orthopedic education from 6:30 am until 7:30am, after which we head to our respective rotation. During the last few months of our first year we work very closely with the PGY2 residents to ensure a smooth transition into our second year. The entire team works to prepare us for the increased responsibilities and workload.

When we are on orthopedic service, our day starts at 5am with morning rounds. We learn how to efficiently utilize the EMR, appropriately communicate with attendings and other consulting services, and how to examine each patient in a thorough but concise fashion. We work closely with the chief residents and attendings in the OR and have ample amounts of hands on experience. There is always someone around to help if ever I feel overwhelmed or confused.

I’m currently on PM&R where I am learning about EMG’s and exceptionally detailed physical exams. Many patients we see in the clinic are referred by the orthopedic attendings we work with, so it is a great way to appreciate comprehensive care. I am usually home around 5pm with ample time to work out, cook, and do whatever I need to do for the next day.

I moved to Michigan from Ohio and have been using my free time to get to know the area. It has been a lot of fun grabbing drinks with the other residents and checking out new restaurants in various neighborhoods around Detroit. I have also had a few weekends to explore some of the national parks around the state and have really enjoyed the outdoor activities that Michigan has to offer!

A Day in the Life of a PGY-2

My name is Clarence Cabatu, one of the PGY2 orthopedic surgery residents. During second year at our program, we spend the entire year on the orthopedic service. Our days usually start every morning at 5am, rounding on patients, and running the list with our fellow colleagues and chief residents. On most days after that, we have an educational presentation by one of our residents up until most of our attendings start their operative days, usually at 7:30am. At the end of the day, we update our patient list with any events and run it by the on-call resident for the night. Second year at our orthopedic program is very busy, as our responsibilities range from running errands on the wards, seeing consults in the emergency department, reducing fractures/dislocations, and also operating with many of the orthopedic surgeons at our hospital.

Currently, the summer/fall season is when we host fourth year medical students from different medical schools around the U.S. who are interested in becoming a resident at our program. Medical students scrub operative cases with us and occasionally come to office to see the outpatient aspect of orthopedic surgery. Henry Ford Macomb Hospital is a busy Level II trauma institution as Clinton Township hosts one of the most abundant geriatric populations in the area. As a second-year resident our responsibilities in the OR are to help prepare and drape the patient in operating room, assist the attending surgeon with the case, write post operative orders, and follow the patient’s post op course. Most of our operative cases range from total hip and knee replacements, knee and shoulder scopes, and fracture fixation. Once a month, we have a simulation lab to practice our surgical skills on cadaveric models. We also attend COGMET every month which focuses on various lecture presentations given by orthopedic surgeons from around the US.

On days off, I like to spend my time out on the golf course and going to college football games at my alma mater at Michigan State University. Also being only 20 minutes from Detroit makes it easy to have fun outside of work. Attending Detroit Lions or Red Wings games is always a fun activity with friends and fellow residents. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a rewarding residency and hospital that prides itself on patient centered care.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-3

Hey there, my name is Cameron King, I’m a PGY3 resident at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. Starting 3rd year is an exciting time for sure, it means you’ve survived 2nd year and now are ready to tackle some new challenges and opportunities, and most importantly...have a little more freedom away from the pager, floor, and ER.

A typical day consists of waking up early around 5:30am. I live in a nice, family friendly neighborhood just minutes away from the hospital. My commute takes me less than 5 mins to get from my door to the hospital which is nice for early mornings and for when you take home call in the evenings. I typically arrive a little before 6:00am and help the 1st and 2nd years round on all our patients and finish up notes before education. Education starts at 6:30 and goes until 7:30, and typically consists of lectures given by residents from Miller’s/OKU, fracture conference, faculty presentations, and often article reviews. After education we hurry to the OR for typical 7:30am start times for cases. During our 3rd year our dedicated 2 month rotations consist of Spine, Hand, Sports, Pediatrics, and General orthopedics. Even as a new third year I feel my confidence and abilities in the OR have already grown because we get so much hands on experience and our attendings are great teachers who are more than willing to hand you the knife and let you go. Each day is a little different when it ends depending on how late cases go in the OR, when clinic finishes, or how many consults pile up in the ER. The best aspect of our program is the team camaraderie, from the 1’s to the 5’s everyone has each other’s backs. I can’t count how many times my co-residents have stepped in to help lighten the load even when they didn’t have to. 3rd year is an exciting time, and it’s only just beginning for me. I’m looking forward to more exposure to the various subspecialties including our 3 months we spend in Cincinnati for our Pediatric rotation. Each day I feel so lucky to be a part of the best specialty in all of medicine.

When not at work, I love coming home to my wife and 2 little girls (2 year old & 3 month old) who keep me busy and on my toes. My wife and I aren’t from here but we have enjoyed our time in the Metro Detroit area and look forward to exploring even more of what Michigan has to offer in the coming years.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-4

Hi! My name is Melissa Martinez and I’m a PGY4 resident. As a fourth year you spend a lot of time outside of the base hospital on a specific service like foot and ankle, arthroplasty, or sports. You participate in evaluation of patients in the office to further hone your orthopedic skills that you have built in the first three years of residency. You also begin to gain more autonomy in the OR in order to prepare for 5th year of residency and beyond.

On a typical day, education begins at 630 at our base hospital. If your current service is in office that day, then you attend education in person. If it is one of your operative days at a nearby hospital, then you call in to education on skype. As a fourth year you take 2-3 nights of call per month. There is no weekend call during this year of training so you have a lot of time to dedicate to preparing for your cases, research projects, and studying for the OITE.

When not at work I enjoy working out, spending time with my friends and family, eating at new restaurants, and attending collegiate or professional sporting events. On the weekends in the summer I spend most of my time at one of the nearby parks riding my bike, walking the trails or swimming in the lake.

A Day in the Life of a PGY-5

A Typical day for a PGY5 in the Henry Ford Macomb Orthopedic residency starts with helping round on patients, typically the patients you operated on the previous day. Next is the education routine, running the inpatient list and morning lecture. Running the list is a lot of coordinating what needs to be done that day making sure that patients that are going to the OR that day are cleared and have the appropriate lab work etc. The lecture portion is your responsibility to assign and often time to give, lectures are not typically very long and contain high yield topics. In lecture, whether or not you are the lecturer it is your job to educate the other residents, which often includes highlighting key points to remember. After lecture we go to the OR or clinic depending on what rotation we are on. In the OR you play a primary role in the case including making more of the intraoperative decisions. The attendings expect you to have a formulated plan and also to have the skills to execute the plan. All the attendings are great to be in the OR with and are there to support your education. After your day is finished the work is not entirely finished you have to prepare for the cases you have the next day which means reading charts looking up implants and discussing with the attendings. Next you are able to get some well-deserved rest


What is the life of a medical resident? ›

Life as a resident is challenging, with high expectations, long hours, and often too-little sleep. Doctors advise residents to remember to practice self-care: spend time with friends, participate in enjoyable activities, exercise, get enough rest, and ask for help when necessary.

How hard is residency med school? ›

Is medical residency hard? While every resident physician will handle their experiences differently, they all seem to agree that postgraduate training was challenging. “I expected residency to be grueling, and it was that and more,” says Dr. Barbara Bergin, Texas-based orthopedic surgeon.

How many hours a day is residency? ›

While this means fewer days working, it can lead affect sleep patterns and lead to exhaustion. Because of the impact long hours can have on one's health and mental state, first-year residents, also called interns, can work no more than 16 hours in a single shift. Experienced senior residents can work up to 28 hours.

How do you survive medical residency? ›

Tips on Surviving Your Residency
  1. DON'T PANIC! Keep your sense of humor. ...
  2. Ask questions and ASK FOR HELP! Believe it or not, you are not actually expected to know everything.
  4. Work hard, stay enthusiastic, and maintain interest. ...
  5. Take care of your patients.

What do residents do? ›

Medical residents work at doctors' offices or hospitals to continue their education and medical training in a specialized field. This is referred to as a 'residency. ' During their residency, medical residents provide direct care to patients, including diagnosing, managing, and treating health conditions and injuries.

What happens during residency? ›

The day-to-day of a resident begins early and often runs late. In general, residents spend most of their time conducting rounds, which is when they see their patients and discuss their care with the attending physician. They will also spend time preparing for rounds and following up on patient care after the rounds.

What is the hardest part of residency? ›

We asked medical residents how they cope with "the most difficult aspect of residency." Here's what they had to say.
  • Balancing motherhood and residency. ...
  • Being in the midst of a complicated healthcare system. ...
  • Succumbing to burnout. ...
  • Sacrificing personal life. ...
  • Caring for our youngest patients.
May 17, 2023

Which year of med school is hardest? ›

Year one is the hardest year of medical school.

Many students will likely disagree, but the first year is widely recognized as being the most difficult. The majority of the first year of medical school is spent in classrooms and labs and requires an enormous amount of memorization.

Which doctor has the easiest residency? ›

The shortest residency programs are typically in the following specialties and only take about two to three years to complete:
  • Internal medicine.
  • Medical genetics and genomics.
  • Osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal medicine (up to five years, depending on the program)
  • Pediatrics.
  • Preventive medicine.
Nov 29, 2022

What type of doctor has the most flexible schedule? ›

Most flexible medical specialty: Psychiatry

This gives them the highest degree of flexibility in their work hours – a factor deemed important by 11% of survey respondents. Being able to run their practice virtually also means psychiatrists can take on patients over a much wider geographical area.

Why do resident doctors work so much? ›

The ability to follow a patient from admission through the next 30 or 40 hours may be valued more than observing several patients for shorter periods. The desire to continue caring for a patient frequently leads doctors to work for longer than is permitted.

What is a resident schedule like? ›

Every three to five days, depending on your residency program, you yourself will be on a long-call shift. During this time, you'll remain at work until later in the day (most programs allow their long-call residents to sign-out to the overnight resident between 6:30 and 8 p.m.).

Why is residency so exhausting? ›

Residents work long hours, night shifts, and rotating shifts which cause havoc in their sleep patterns. Contributory to this is the mandatory or voluntary overtime, all of which contribute to fatigue. Fatigue can result in accidents, mistakes, and errors.

Why do doctors get paid so little during residency? ›

Resident Salaries Are Low

One of the reasons for the low salary of resident doctors is Medicare, which funds the graduate medical education (GME). Medicare was introduced in 1965 to provide funding for residency programs across the country. Over time, this funding was capped by Congress.

How can I make residency fun? ›

10 tips to make residency more enjoyable
  1. Build a support system. ...
  2. Keep your hobbies. ...
  3. Embrace your vulnerability. ...
  4. Make work enjoyable. ...
  5. Be your own patient. ...
  6. Sleep. ...
  7. Appreciate small moments of success. ...
  8. Stop negativity.
Jan 3, 2016

Do medical residents work every day? ›

Every three to five days, depending on your residency program, you yourself will be on a long-call shift. During this time, you'll remain at work until later in the day (most programs allow their long-call residents to sign-out to the overnight resident between 6:30 and 8 p.m.).

Can you have a life during residency? ›

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.

Do medical residents work long hours? ›

Residents work 40–80 hours a week depending on specialty and rotation within the specialty, with residents occasionally logging 136 (out of 168) hours in a week. Some studies show that about 40% of this work is not direct patient care, but ancillary care, such as paperwork.

What age do doctors leave residency? ›

Generally most people graduate college at age 22 and medical school at 26. Then after three years of internship and residency, many physicians begin their career at age 29. However, the training for some specialties can last until the physician's early to mid 30's.


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