So, you just matched into the best field of medicine (ophthalmology)! But, after some thorough celebration, you realize that there are 500-some days until residency begins. Now what? Below is a short list of undertakings I have found beneficial over the past year.
1. INTERN YEAR
Finish the interview season strong. Update your top program(s) with where you are attending residency and confirm that they are at the top of your list for an internship. You can even take it to the next level and have mentors/future program directors reach out! Doing the most to lock up a good year is priority number one.
2. STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT
Nobody (other than your servicer) enjoys working on student loans, but it is vital. Go to any free financial seminar your school offers. The PAYE and RePAYE plans are the typical frontrunners, but they may not be for everyone. Fill out a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification form when the time comes (this has to be done for each employer). Set up auto-pay.
3A. DISABILITY INSURANCE
You’ve already made the best financial decision of your life by investing in your future earning potential; it is time to lock in a portion of it. Without a current income, disability insurance seems costly, but long-term disability is likely your biggest financial risk.
3B. LIFE INSURANCE
If you are single, life insurance may not be necessary, depending on whether your loans are held through the federal government or, if not, have forgiveness upon death. If you have a spouse, this is circumstantial. However, if you have children, life insurance is typically a good idea.
3C. WHITE COAT INVESTOR
I highly recommend checking out The White Coat Investor (whitecoatinvestor.com) for up-to-date information on your financial needs.
Now that you are likely savvy with Airbnb and Google Flights, it is time to reap the benefits, with family members, with medical school friends, or solo—whatever you prefer. Travel within your means and avoid racking up unnecessary credit card debt in the process.
5. TAKE USMLE STEP 3 EARLY
I recommend completing at least one medicine rotation, and an emergency medicine rotation also comes in handy. Reviewing the free Computer-based Case Simulations tutorial that the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) offers is a must. Other than that, the sooner you take USMLE Step 3, the better. UWorld (uworld.com) always has a good question bank if you feel you need to brush up. It’s also not a bad idea to brush off the dust off FirstAid and review the stats chapter. Shoot for before January 1 if possible. You’re going to crush it!
6. STUDY OPHTHO
In asking residents about intern year, many said, “Live it up as much as possible; ophtho will come.” However, most of us are pretty motivated to get going. Although keeping the tank full with plenty of R&R is a priority, if you find yourself with the bandwidth and desire to study, my recommendations are as follows:
- AAO’s Practical Ophthalmology (store.aao.org/practical-ophthalmology-a-manual-for-beginning-residents-seventh-edition.html): a beginner’s manual with a lot of practical info
- OphthoQuestions (ophthoquestions.com): the UWorld of ophthalmology
- Easy Ophtho (easyophtho.blogspot.com): a blog that posts questions biweekly
- Basic and Clinical Science Course books: for supplementation only—reading these cover to cover may not be the best use of your time at this stage
However, remember that family, friends, hobbies, etc., come first! Don’t burn yourself out before you get started.