This blog post was originally published August 1, 2015 on The OMFS Girl. You can find the original piece here.
I’ve officially completed one month of oral and maxillofacial surgery residency at Georgia Regents University! Woo! That’s 2.08% of residency in the books. Looking back, here’s a list of things that helped make my life easier and my days run more smoothly. Although I didn’t have them all on day one, had I known earlier, it would have saved me some time (and stress) running around purchasing items while also adjusting to life as a resident.
- Maxwell’s Quick Medical Reference – This pocket-size book includes normal lab values, different exams to perform by system, useful equations, what to include in a history and physical, review of systems, and different types of notes, and so much more. Seriously a life saver.
- Pen light – It’s used for just about anything during rounds, but in particular, inspecting the oral cavity, nose, and ears. I have this one. It’s lightweight, high-intensity and reasonably priced.
- Stethoscope – Definitely try them out before you buy, because there’s a significant range in quality. I purchased this one from GRU’s bookstore and have been happy with its performance. I couldn’t say no to the gold accents either. I mean, it’s the color of champions, so where could you go wrong?
- Notebook – You’ll be inundated with information about patients, procedures, and topics to read up on later, and unless you have an impeccable memory, you’ll need a place to jot down some notes. The Moleskine one I have is durable, and I was able to pick one up at Target.
- Pens – Lots of them. Remember how pens would seem to walk off during dental school? That doesn’t change unless you guard them like a hawk. I have a set of Pilot G-2 gel ink pens that have a great fluidity when you write and somehow make taking notes and signing prescriptions actually enjoyable. I keep a close eye on these bad boys. Target will do the trick.
- Tongue depressors, cotton swabs, 3-0 gut sutures, suture removal kit, gauze – Fill up your white coat pockets and replenish frequently. Find the supply rooms early for maximum efficiency.
- OR consent forms – It’s always nice to have a copy available to get a head start on preparing your team’s patient for the OR.
- Phone charger – Days can vary greatly in length and busyness, and there’s nothing worse than having your phone die on you, particularly when you’re on call.
- Granola bars – Again, days are variable, so avoid letting hunger ruin your day by coming prepared. Find a snack that’s easy to pack and will keep you going in between meals.
- A good attitude – The beginning of residency can be stressful and chaotic to say the least. It takes time to in-process new residents, and sometimes this can be frustratingly slow. Kindness and patience will take you far. It’s also imperative that you have an understanding that there is so much you don’t know and so much you wouldn’t have even thought about knowing prior to residency. Having the humility to accept that and a willingness and unabashed drive to learn will help any new resident succeed.
~ Dr. Stephanie Zastrow, Minnesota ’15, OMFS resident, Georgia Regents University