As a medical student, you might be unsure about what to expect in your life as a resident doctor. Although there are fresh challenges and learning opportunities every day throughout residency, your daily itinerary will generally follow the same format on any given rotation. If you are keen, read on to know more.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Resident

Here is a peek into a resident’s schedule while they are on an internal medicine inpatient day rotation.

  • 6:00 AM: The Day Begins 

Your residency program, your rotation, and how far you have to commute to the hospital will all affect what time you wake up. However, on typical inpatient rotations, internal medicine residents awaken between 5:30 and 6:30 AM and try to arrive at the hospital by 7 AM to begin their shifts.

  • 7:30 – 8:00 AM: Sign-out

When you sign out with the overnight resident after arriving at the hospital, you start your shift by talking to them about the patients you are responsible for. Important details, such as any interventions carried out during the night and any worries the overnight resident may have regarding the wellbeing of any of your patients, are now sent to you. Additionally, you are informed of any overnight admissions under your care.

The significance of signing out cannot be emphasised because this information can structure the rest of your day. For instance, you will first want to see a patient in a particularly precarious situation.

  • 7:30-9:00 AM: Pre-rounds

After signing out, you may spend a few minutes checking up on your patients in the electronic medical record (EMR), taking note of their vital signs, looking up any fresh notes made by other healthcare professionals on the outcomes of any overnight testing. After reviewing them all, you will see each patient including any additional overnight admissions. Usually, you take a short while to inform each patient of any modifications to their medical care plan and do a physical examination. You can flexibly finish these morning activities in any order. 

You will be in charge of accepting new patients all day long if you work on the admission team. Your role will entail seeing newly admitted patients, recording fresh histories and physicals in the EMR, as well as drafting admission orders.

  • 9:00-11:00 AM: Rounds

In general, rounds consist of two parts: attending and interdisciplinary. You and your team will consult with the attending physician about each patient on your service during attending rounds. Every medical treatment plan is examined and revised. With your attendance, you will probably notice any fresh admissions once more.

  • 11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Time to work

After the rounds are through, you start working on your daily responsibilities. You will probably make consultation calls based on new information you gathered while on rounds, order necessary tests, or go through fresh test results. You can also start or finish documentation for patients who are due to leave the hospital later in the day. 

  • 12:00-1:00 PM: Noon conference

An expert presenter covers an important subject for the effective treatment of your patients during your daily hour of resident education. Most residency programs, though not all, serve food to their residents at the noon conference. Some institutions offer “morning conference,” an additional hour of resident education before rounds.

  • 1:00-5:00 PM: Time to work

You can proceed with the day’s remaining tasks after the noon conference. Along with the previously listed features, you will create and maintain a list of your patients. The long-call and overnight residents will need to execute the chores on this list once you check out of the hospital for the day. While many residency programs allow their day residents to sign out at 5:00 PM, the exact timing varies per program.

  • 5:00 PM: The shift ends

Sign-out is a crucial procedure where you address the activities that need to be accomplished for each patient overnight and any worries you may have, just like in the morning. Before leaving the hospital for the day, you must sign your patients out to the long-call resident.

Depending on your residency program, you will work a long-call shift every three to five days. You will work during this period till later in the day (most programs allow long-call residents to sign out to the overnight resident between 6:30 and 8:00 PM). You cover 20 to 40 patients before signing out to the overnight resident.

To conclude, due to the demanding nature of internal medicine residency, it is critical to make the most of your limited free time. The overwhelming amount of work required throughout residency will motivate you to create a system that works for you, and you will surely get better and more productive with time. We hope that this brief insight into the daily activities of an internal medicine resident will help you better prepare for success during this period of your life as a medical resident.