My husband is currently in the residency interview season and I’ve loved hearing from him about each program after the interviews. Of course there is only so much the interviews can cover as they are trying to get to know each candidate on a more personal level and like wise each candidate getting to know the program. Tom compares it to dating.
There are many questions each resident may have about the program as he or she prepares their rank list. Some make an excellent spread sheet giving numerical value to category as a way to compare programs. We are basing our rank on “feel” of the interview, relationships of those in the program, fellowship opportunities, how the program values the whole person, proximity to extended family, and unique ways God is speaking.
Your spouses job during the interview is to learn all about the program, the typical schedule, the programs resident wellness philosophy, the academic research opportunities, the curriculum and training opportunities, the camaraderie among faculty and residence, the match rates for fellowships and board passing rates, etc.
And you may be like me trying to figure out how our family will thrive the next three/four years of residency financially as we make the switch from dependance on loans, WIC, medicaid, my part-time income, savings, and the generosity of others to a salary position. Lists help me so I thought I share what I’ve written down so far (not comprehensive by any means) and please comment with suggestions and questions you are asking, too. The two categories that are follow up questions after residency interviews you may seek to answer through a quick google search, the booklet/folder the program handed out, email contact with the program coordinator, or if more appropriate a resident your spouse connected with at the preinterview dinner.
Employee Benefits may add or take away from your salary. It’s always a bonus to have solid benefits to support residence and their families.
- What are the basic resident benefits? What are the cost for adding additional family members?
- Is there an HSA plan? FSA plan? Does the hospital contribute?
- Is there adoption assistance?
- Are their matching contributions?
- Is free parking available for residents at your program?
- Are meals paid for when on call? Or is there a weekly/monthly meal allowance?
- How many weeks of PTO do you receive? Are there parameters for when these can be taken?
- What is your family leave policy?
- Is there a cell phone for clinical use provided? Can you pay addition monthly for personal use?
- Are moonlighting opportunities available? What are the rules for moonlighting? Is there a required number of years to be vested?
- Are their discounts or stipends for childcare? dependent education?
- Are there additional benefits? (football tickets, yearly club fees, local perks, etc.)
Housing may be one of the biggest factors when a family is considering residency but rest assured current residences and a great relator can be of great help! And of course if you are like me and looking on realty sites is a hobby, gaging the pace of the market and price per sq. ft can help in preparing for your next home regardless of renting or buying.
- What type of home size can we afford in the area and keep to 30% or less of our income being rent and utilities or mortgage (including property tax, insurance, and maintenance)?
- Once matched maybe call for specifics on the general electricity and/or gas bills of specific properties.
- Meet a friend on IG or Lives of Doctors Wives FB group or Side by Side FB group that lives in the area and can help with the inside scoop on schools, neighborhoods in proximity to hospital, available rentals, etc.
- Ask residence where they live. Some programs will even give a chart of residence by year and the type of housing/cost.
- Consider proximity to church, other residents, parks, gym, food, the hospital, etc. and how much gas or commute time add to Dr.SO day.
- Moving cost can add up and may be a factor in how and when you move to your new residency home town/city. Moving companies will give you free quotes if you know the zip code.
We are actually considering packing all our belongings into PODS or some sort of storage as a way to move items out of our home to declutter before selling and then to move them after we rent a long term Airbnb for a few months. We made a decision about where to live for medical school from a trip just weeks before school started and both of us would not advice that process. Fortunately we ended up easily getting out of our lease six months into renting and bought a home in a much more fitting area for us.
Buying is always on the table for me as I like the idea of a simple “flip” (paint, new floor, light fixture upgrades, curb appeal) but it would have to make sense on paper, especially since residency is for a shorter time frame. There are several other blogs for medical families and some great discussions in groups about the pros and cons of buying during residency, if that is a question you two are discussing.
Random but essential…ok these truly are just the “it would be nice if” type questions for me, but this season needs a little fun too!
- What is the best restaurant/date night location the town/city has to offer? How many local brewery options are there?
- International population?
- How close is the nearest ski slope? hike? beach? etc.
- Can I buy my dream home on a resident salary?
- What Arts are available?
- Where can I entertain my kids on a day that boredom sets in and dad’s working LOONG hours?
- Do we get free tickets to football games? basketball? How much could we resell these tickets for?
- Is a vasectomy a part of the health plan? (serious consideration)
- How “cold” is cold? How “hot” is hot?
- Is there a delicious local chocolate shop? hipster coffee shop? non-hipster coffee shop?
- Are there great parks to train for a half-marathon, this is in my New Years resolution plan so it’s important…its going to happen…I got new official running shoes for Christmas!
PSA Preschool and Daycare! Don’t forget to get on the waiting lists for preschool or daycares, even if it means placing your children on lists prior to Match Day in 5 different states. This isn’t a joke! I’ve talked with several women who let this “little” factor take backseat and found themselves in a tricky childcare situation right after a big move.
Hopefully those in the interview season will benefit from this post. Praying for everyone to have the wisdom you need to take the next step!