Starting residency is a significant milestone for every new doctor. While having your own patients will make years of medical school feel worthwhile, the hard work isn’t over yet. Residency can be even busier than medical school, and you’ll be more successful if you learn to be an efficient medical resident. 

4 tips to be an efficient medical resident

Succeeding as a medical resident requires many personal skills, from teamwork to empathy to emotional resilience. But the foundations for success are independent learning and managing the myriad demands of an overwhelmingly busy clinical schedule. 

These four tips will help you become an efficient medical resident and build efficient documentation practices early in your career.

1. Study effectively

If medical school is about amassing vast knowledge, residency is about retrieving and applying that knowledge. To successfully transition from student to doctor, you must learn to study more effectively. 

The most efficient medical residents study in tiny doses throughout the day. Your mobile devices are a huge asset here. Take out Read by QxMD when eating breakfast. Do one question on the U World App when waiting for the elevator. When commuting home, listen to a podcast episode

You’ll better integrate what you learn by filling the gaps between other activities with small doses of learning. Keep relevant apps and resources just a click away on your smartphone and use them any time you have a few spare minutes. 

2. Take notes wisely

You need a way to consolidate and retrieve the information you acquire through reading, listening, studying, and learning from colleagues. Many residents use apps like Evernote or SimpleNote to compile information about common diagnoses.

The key to using these entries effectively is to make them practical rather than comprehensive. Never copy and paste into your notes. Instead, jot down a few notes in your own words whenever you learn something new and relevant. 

For example, you might create an entry for a diagnosis that includes how to recognize it, questions to ask, lab tests to order, differential diagnoses, and treatment. Then you can bring up this note during rounds and add new insights as you learn more. 

3. Use templates and dot phrases

Every EMR has tools that can make writing patient notes faster and easier. Set yourself up for a career of efficient documentation by incorporating templates and dot phrases when using the EMR. 

Many providers type large pieces of text that reoccur based on typical visit types. Templates are customizable forms that providers can easily apply to different sections of the EMR. Most certified EMRs include a library of customizable templates and the ability to create new ones for your specialty.

Similar to templates, dot phrases allow you to insert commonly used chunks of text into patient notes or discharge instructions by typing a period (the dot) followed by a phrase. You can set these phrases up in your EMR and save minutes on each note. For example, “.LBP” might pull in a block of text related to low back pain. Ask your attending or colleagues what dot phrases they use, or collaborate with other providers on sites like

4. Dictate your notes

The average US doctor spends over 15 hours per week on paperwork and administration, including many hours typing into the EMR. This charting burden is leading too many doctors to professional dissatisfaction and burnout, but dictation can help.

While dictating clinical notes requires learning a new workflow, the best time to do this is early in your training. Using modern speech recognition software, you could save hours each week by replacing typing time with medical dictation. 

One study of medical residents in New York found that their median typing speed was just 30 words per minute. Meanwhile, medical dictation software automatically transcribes speech at about 150 WPM. Efficient medical residents will realize that even a dozen hours invested upfront could reduce documentation time by hundreds of hours each year. 

Mobius Conveyor is a leading medical dictation software for doctors who use Mac or PC. As a resident, you may change computers and workstations often. Conveyor is the ultimate flexible dictation solution because it makes your smartphone or tablet a microphone for instant medical dictation on any computer you use.

Interns, residents, and physicians less than a year out of residency qualify for a discounted Conveyor subscription at just $99/month and can receive a free Conveyor USB. To activate discounted pricing, contact Mobius MD or download Mobius Conveyor and click “Chat with Us” in the Settings menu.

Comments are closed.