Vitals: Spring 2016 – Advice for Interns and Residents


, ,


CIR has collected advice from scores of residents who have been in your shoes! How do you maintain relationships outside of the hospital when you work 80+ hours a week? How can you get enough rest so you’re not trying to complete charts on 4 hours of sleep? From parenting to dating & relationships to self-care and time management, read what the veterans have to say!Residents Happy for Advice Page on Web

“For anyone coming in as a new resident, definitely become a member of CIR. I always wanted to be a part of the union because that’s how we get our power. When you feel like you don’t have any support, you’re less likely to stand up for yourself. What I got from CIR is that you’re not the only one having issues. Being able to share solutions to common problems helps to ease the the struggles of residency.
— Sowande Buckmire, Bronx-Lebanon, Family Medicine

“I wish I had known how easy being involved in CIR was going to be. That’s not to say it isn’t extra work, or that it doesn’t take up time. But by and large the bulk of what we do as CIR delegates is what we would do anyway for our fellow residents anyway: improve our programs, help our colleagues, and advocate for our patients.”
— Jacob Bailey, LAC+USC, Med-Peds

“While learning your new role as an intern, being in CIR is like having an older sibling who looks out for you. Eventually you will figure it out, and then you will be the older sibling with the responsibility to look out for younger physicians-in-training. Remember that being in CIR does not take away from your training; it actually enhances your skill set.”
— Peter Ureste, LAC+USC, Psychiatry

“Internship is a year of management. You will learn how to manage your patients, your expectations, your nurses/support staff, and your stress. You’ve got everything you need inside of you to succeed. Go fearlessly forward!”
— Erica Lubliner, Kern Medical Center, Psychiatry

“People are going to get sick whether you are there or not. It’s the positive that you bring to that person’s/family’s life that makes the difference.”
— Vahe Akopian, LAC+USC, Neurology

“Take the extra minute in the morning to find out something about your patient as a person.”
— Juliana Morris, SFGH, Family and Community Medicine

“Take advantage of the union’s ties with the hospital administration. Many more opportunities are open to those that utilize and build on each CIR-associated program’s relationship between residents and administration.”
— Pranay Parikh, LAC+USC, Internal Medicine

“I wish I had known my strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to keep in mind that you’re not going to be perfect at everything. Even though you have support, there aren’t always training wheels. It’s okay to say “I need a moment, I need help.” We’ve all gone through that experience before and it’s better to talk about it than keep it to yourself. I promise there are people who feel the same way and hearing it would be helpful. For me, stopping and reflecting on what happens has been helpful. There will be days when you feel drained, you might have to cry, you might need a cocktail when you get home or to go shopping. Find whatever it is that makes your day-to-day feel better. But also know that it will get easier.”
— Camille Rodriguez, Jacobi Medical Center, Pediatrics


“I was lucky because I was already married when I started residency, but other residents are doing online dating and have found it pretty successful, although they say it’s hard to pick a day when they’re free or not exhausted. I can’t see my husband every day, but communicating throughout the day, even if it’s just a text, makes a big difference. Staying in touch however you can with loved ones keeps you connected and can help you make it through those long days and nights. And making sure you don’t constantly talk about work when you’re at home is important too. Your whole life doesn’t have to be work.”
— Camille Rodriguez, Jacobi Medical Center, Pediatrics

“Women, in general, have a harder time saying no. But saying yes all the time leads to burnout – it’s ok to say no and draw boundaries.”
— Advice from Panelists at Northern California’s Women in Medicine Mentorship Discussion PPP_CSILO_LT3_Silhouette_Family_Couple_Walking

“A lot of the residents who come here aren’t necessarily from the U.S. or from this area, so they’re transplanting here either from a different city or from a different country, and being alone is difficult. Even if you’re friends with people here at the hospital, seeing them outside of work is necessary. That said, when you go home, it’s still not the end of work. You still have to balance work with education, studying, research, doing everything else you need to do.”
— Kristal Ragbir-Toolsie, Bronx-Lebanon, Internal Medicine


“Be unapologetic about your self care. Commit to your health, mind, body, and spirit. Don’t apologize for it; do it. Schedule some time for joy. Put it on your schedule like you do everything else. Define joy however you want to, it’s different for everyone. It’s that which makes your heart sing.”
— Toni Lewis, former CIR President (2007-2010), current Chair of SEIU Healthcare

“Eat the best food you can. Sleep the best you can, and store up on good sleep before night float if you can. When you’re not at work, prioritize the people you love. Ask any questions you want to. Safety is always better than ignorance.”
— Alison Duncan, UNM, Psychiatry

“In terms of work/life balance, you have to kind of steal that time. Make sure you have your outlet, definitely a healthy outlet – the gym, something artistic, something you never thought you would do but you thought it might be fun – just do it, steal that time away to do that.”
— Sowande Buckmire, Bronx-Lebanon, Family Medicine

“Self-care is crucial in residency and as a physician. There will always be people around who complain — people get tired, cranky, and have all types of things going on in their personal lives. Hearing negative comments from patients or staff can get discouraging if you take it to heart every time. Try to stay positive and remember why you’re in residency. Celebrate the small, day-today accomplishments. Try to maintain perspective and a positive attitude. And above all, take care of yourself in and out of the hospital to help prevent burnout.”
Dyani Loo, UNM, Psychiatry


libra-scale-balance-symbol_318-62801“Sleep when you can. Make friends outside of residency as much as you can, and actually see them! Realize that you are actually helping. No matter how much you feel like you failed, whatever you did helped someone.”
— Emily Lu, SFGH, Family and Community Medicine

“When you go out with friends, even if it’s friends or colleagues from the hospital, talk about something other than work. Talk about books, talk about theater, talk about museums. Find something other than work.”
— Aruna Mishra, Bronx-Lebanon, OB/GYN (Attending)

“You have to be honest with yourself about what you want. If you want to focus solely on your career, that’s fine. If you want to have other things outside of your career, that’s okay too. Go to work, see your patients, do the best you can with them, and leave. And go live your life the way you want to. But don’t be dishonest with yourself because you feel like you have to do something or be a certain kind of doctor because that’s what you saw. You’re never going to be happy unless you’re honest with yourself.”
— Lisa Loehrke-Sichhart,Bronx-Lebanon, OB/GYN (Attending)

“Find something about residency, about what you’re doing, that’s fun, and interests you. Whether it be the people that you work with, the staff, or the patients, just find something that you like about it. For me, I can say the excitement and challenge of helping people who come through the doors of our hospital.”
— Sowande Buckmire, Bronx-Lebanon, Family Medicine


“Don’t underestimate the importance of having family and friends to support you outside of the hospital because residency is a long, tough, arduous journey. It’s going to take a lot out of you. You’re going to be working longer hours than you expect on some days. You’ll be surprised when you go outside and see the sunshine. And to have people on the outside of the hospital to support you is very important.”
— Kristal Ragbir-Toolsie, Bronx-Lebanon, Internal Medicine

“I came into medical school married and I’m in my fifth year of training for general surgery, and I’m pregnant with my third baby. It’s rare for a resident – let alone a surgery resident – to be pregnant during residency. A lot of people ask, “How do you manage your family life when you’re a very busy surgical resident?” Often people will warn you that if you want to be a successful surgeon you have to give up your family life. But I’ve been pretty successful – I got my top pick for fellowship. There are sacrifices I’ve had to make: I’ve missed my kids’ birthdays, or I’ve not been able to take them to their first day of school, but overall I haven’t had to sacrifice my career for my family. I think it’s important for female residents – or anyone interested in having a family – to know that it’s not impossible to do it during a busy residency career. It’s important to let residents know that if you think you’re alone, or you’re struggling academically or clinically, that CIR is an outlet for them. Even if you think your one voice is too small, it matters if you stand together.”
— Kay Yoon-Flannery, RowanSOM, Surgery