Career Compass

What to expect during residency

Being a resident has its highs and lows. I love being a resident — so much so, I became a pediatric dental resident after completing a one-year GPR. Completing a residency allows you to grow clinically, improve clinical thinking skills, and further develop critical interprofessional and communication skills. However, it isn’t for everyone. If you are on the fence or potentially considering residency, here are some things to keep in mind.

Know what’s expected of you.

Once you agree to be a resident, it is a contractual agreement. Each program has its own manual that outlines the policies and responsibilities of their residents. They are typically reviewed with you on the first day, and you’re expected to review them on your own as well. Before your start date, you’ll sign the policy and agree to your responsibilities. The manual also may include the disciplinary actions that will be taken if you don’t follow the rules, such as suspensions or expulsions.

Once you start your residency, don’t expect to be treated like a dental student. You are now a trained professional, and they are expecting you to be that. Therefore, preparedness is key. In most advanced programs, you may see more advanced cases and medically compromised patients. Without proper preparation, you could potentially hinder patient care, which is a big no-no in a residency. Plus, adequate preparedness will lead to a less stressful experience and establish confidence between you and your attendings.

For example, knowing your patient’s chart, past medical history and consults completed, as well as providing routine follow-up care are pertinent to delivering optimal patient care. Also, some programs may meet weekly for rounds for inpatients who require dental clearance for procedures and patients who require sedation. Residents are responsible for presenting patients to attendings to ensure that each patient is prepared for the treatment in both a clinical and an OR setting.

Read more in the April issue of Contour magazine.

~Dr. LaJoi E. Wiggins, East Carolina ’17, Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Resident ’20

LaJoi Wiggins

LaJoi E. Wiggins, East Carolina '17, is a PGY-1 resident at the Virginia Commonwealth University pediatric dentistry program, where she is pursuing a Master of Science in dentistry, a certificate in pediatric dentistry and a certificate in neurodevelopmental disabilities. Immediately following graduation, she started a one-year GPR at Oklahoma University (OU) Medical Center, where she trained at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center and the OKC VA Health Care System.

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