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Resident Roundup: Preparing for Residency

Azam Qureshi, MD, and Adrianna Gonzalez Lopez, MD, share the one piece of advice they would give their past selves to help them prepare for their dermatology residency.

Dr Gonzalez Lopez is a first-year dermatology resident with the department of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, DC.

Dr Qureshi is a first-year dermatology resident with the department of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, DC.

Dr Friedman is the director of the residency program at George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, DC.


Dr Adam Friedman: Azam, along those lines, you mentioned time management and transitioning to a full‑time 24‑hour job, it sounds like, versus internship, where you’re in and you’re out, when you’re obviously on in the hospital.

Which one piece of advice you would give your last year you to prepare for this complete sudden shift in your day‑to‑day?

Dr Azam Qureshi: The biggest piece of advice that I would give myself, looking back, is don’t sweat learning every detail in lectures. It’s an enormous amount of information. I remember when I transitioned to medical school, one of our faculty compared it to drinking out of a fire hose. I think the same thing applies to dermatology residency.

Dr Friedman: It’s a geyser.

Dr Qureshi: Yeah. Really.


Dr Qureshi: The good thing is that you go through it so many different times. I’m sure, you might encounter certain topics during a book club, but you might get a guest lecturer a month later on a similar topic that goes into a little more detail.

You might have a grand rounds patient that has that same pathology, and you review the workup, and the diagnosis, and the treatments for that.

You’ll see so many patients in clinic on a daily basis, and you learn that you’re in for a lifetime of not only learning, but also solidifying your foundation in dermatology. Obviously, I hope to do that in residency and then develop that throughout my career.

Dr Friedman: What I’m hearing is, don’t sweat knowing everything at once because repetition is there, and it’s going to be key to ultimately learning everything you need to know.

Dr Qureshi: Exactly.

Dr Friedman: Adrianna, same question. What would you tell 2019/2020 Adriana pre‑pandemic, pre‑derm residency? What one piece of advice would you give her entering into first year?

Dr Adrianna Gonzalez Lopez: For me personally, it’s not related to the pandemic per se, but one piece of advice I would give myself is to learn how to prioritize while seeing patients in a clinical setting.

I think during intern year, the flow is a lot different. You have a lot of time in the morning to organize yourself, do the tasks that you need to do for the patient that day. You have a larger lot of amount of time to write your notes, and then you have another large amount of time in the afternoon to reroute on new patients and do certain things that were on your to‑do list.

In dermatology residency, I feel like things are a lot more fast‑paced. Our hours are shorter in the day that we work, but I feel like the work we do while we’re at work is, in ways, a lot busier and harder than what I had to do in intern year. I feel like you have a very small allotted amount of time to see the patient, formulate a diagnosis, write the note, put the orders in.

I think if you don’t prioritize things, you get behind quickly. I had to learn that the tough way. At the beginning, my notes were lagging behind, and then I would have to write a ton of notes at the end of the day. I slowly learned how to prioritize.

One thing is, I wish I had fostered that a little bit more during my intern year when I had the leisure, I had more time to see my patients, and assess my patients, and do all these tasks. I wish I had practiced it a little bit more then, and I think it would have been very helpful, especially at the beginning of dermatology residency.

Dr Friedman: Great point.

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