How to Prepare for the Transition to Residency

Victoria Humphrey, MD - May 19, 2021
A student celebrating Match Day before making the transition to residency.

Congratulations on graduation―time sure does fly by! You’ve made it through board exams, residency applications, Match Day, and graduation; now the only thing left to do is navigate the transition to your first day of PGY-1 year. 

As medical students, we learn the minute details of the Krebs Cycle as well as the best pharmacotherapies for community-acquired pneumonia. But, rarely do we cover the logistics, especially the financial ones, necessary to successfully transition to residency. 

Check out the AMBOSS Transition to Residency Guide for more tips & tricks.


While this list is certainly not exhaustive, here are a few tips to keep in mind that I acquired from mentors, friends, and my own personal experience. 

Start saving money early

Medical school loans only cover the academic year; therefore, the interim from graduation to the start of PGY-1 year is in limbo.

Oh, did I mention that in many instances new residents do not receive their first paycheck until the end of July/beginning of August? Even though the first official day of PGY-1 year is technically July 1st (with orientation often beginning 1-3 weeks prior).

In short, start saving money as early as you financially can to help support your transition. Some medical students even seek out part-time employment during those last months of medical school leading into the start of residency because they’ve already exhausted much of their savings between residency applications and board exams.  

Do your research

There is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. 

Whether it’s by plane, train (the AMTRAK Auto Train is a fantastic option for moving your car north to south or vice versa), or automobile, make sure you do some deep digging to figure out which option works best for you. This includes the choice to either move all of your belongings or sell and/or donate and repurchase when you arrive. 

Also, do not undervalue the utility of reviews when it comes to searching for apartment buildings, moving companies, utility providers, relocation loan services (try to find one that does a soft credit check instead of a hard inquiry), etc. I was able to eliminate so many possible apartment options just based on reviews alone. Yelp and Google Reviews happen to be my go-to’s!

Don’t forget to ask about “move-in incentives”

New apartment buildings will often offer 2-3 months of free rent, complimentary VISA gift cards, and more. Additionally, you can often negotiate monthly rent with individual landlords.

Don’t be shy when asking about incentives or negotiating to get a better deal (based upon other offers you’ve seen or received)―remember, you’re the customer here!

Always ask for “health care/ frontline worker discounts”

Some management companies will waive your application fee or require only a 50% deposit. Furthermore, many utility providers/renters insurance companies will provide discounts if you have a college degree or are a health care/frontline worker.

It might seem small, but every little bit counts!⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

I  know all too well how daunting the transition can seem; hopefully these tips will come in handy to help ease your transition. Remember you’ve made it this far―nothing can stop you now!


About the Author: Hailing from the Sunshine State, Victoria Humphrey is a retired pageant queen and current Dermatology resident at Harvard University. She attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and has a passion for skin of color dermatology,  educational equality, increasing diversity in medicine, and working with medically underserved communities. Follow her journey on Instagram or Twitter.