Tag Archives: post-residency life

Time off between residency and attending life?

13 Jan

As you approach the end of residency and negotiate your job offer(s) you may find yourself asking, “Should I start my new job right after residency or should I take some time to breathe?”

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I am in the camp of taking some time to yourself to #1 reward yourself for the last 3-5 years of grueling 80+ hour work weeks and being told what to do and when to be there. You’ve worked hard to get through medical school and residency and a little time to yourself I think is well deserved.

I was debating this myself last spring as I finished up residency and I actually surveyed a few of my attendings to see how they felt about the subject. I had a couple responses of; “Today’s generation is so different, why would you need any more than 2 weeks off to relocate and unpack your house and start working?” and then I had others tell me, “Of course, take time to yourself. It’s time you will never get back and there is no time in yourself except between jobs or if you’re lucky enough to have a sabbatical that you’ll get more than 2 weeks off ever again until retirement.” I had another tell me that they had spent his month off working on a website to promote his practice which he felt was not the most recharging thing he could have done, looking back.

When I started my job this summer after taking 7 weeks off, (and honestly I would have narrowed it to 6 but they only start new employees every other week so mine happened to fall into the 7th week…”oh darn”), I received a lot of comments by my new peers that they wish they would have taken the time off I did prior to their start date.  I realize that not everyone is in a position to take as much time off. Or, perhaps they are not able to do anything during the time off. I understand that financial restrictions do make this a challenge for some, and also if you have a family or medical problems, not having a guaranteed income or insurance at an acceptable rate is also scary.  To be able to take a month or more off of work is not a luxury everyone has.  However, if you are able to plan and save for this I think the possibilities are endless as to what you can do with this time. I am also a big proponent to self care, so if all you want to do is sit on a porch, read a book and paint your toenails, that too, is 100% worth it!

I also want everyone out there negotiating a new contract that if the contract states a start date without anyone asking for your opinion, you can ask to change the start date. I believe mine originally said 3 weeks and I pushed it to 6… in which they then had to push it to 7. I’m sure some contracts are non-negotiable, but you are now in a desired position in your life and asking for another week or two between residency and starting your new job should be understandable.

At a minimum, most attendings could agree upon the proposal that if you are relocating to a new area you should take at least 2 weeks off to get your belongings moved and unpacked so you feel more ready for day 1. So, with 7 weeks off I had 5 to plan for play.  My partner and I elected to go on a month long travel adventure. After looking at our options and realizing the southern part of the globe would be experiencing winter during the July/August time we had to travel, we booked our plane tickets and bought a eurail pass starting out in Paris, France. I am working on outlining the adventure of a trip that was on another blog I’ve started: here. So please, feel free to read along as I roll it out.

As for if I have any regret (financially, academically, socially, or in any other way) about taking 7 weeks off after residency, NO WAY! I have similar feelings about taking time off between undergrad and medical school so perhaps I am biased but again, I truly feel like medical school and residency are a huge feat to accomplish and taking time to recharge afterward is invaluable.

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