As a medical student, there’s a bit of nervousness that comes over you when you know you’re about to be assigned a new resident. There are different types of residents, and you never know which one you’ll get.

You wonder if it’s a man or a woman. Will the person be nice or mean? Is the person known for assigning nothing but grunt work to med school students? Can you actually learn some valuable things from this resident?

Some residents make their students write all of their progress notes for them. Others leave them unsupervised, so they can leave early for a night out on the town or study for board exams. Then, there are those who take their teaching jobs very seriously. They want every student they work with to learn from the program.

Either way, you either grow to love them or love to hate them during your clinical rotations.

3 Types of Residents You’ll Grow to Love (or Hate) During Med School

3 Types of Residents You’ll Grow to Love (or Hate) During Med School. Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

3 Types of Residents Most Medical Students Encounter at Some Point

During your clinical placement, you’ll be assigned a resident to help you get through rotations. Some are easy to work with, while others make life difficult for medical students.

There are the three general types of residents you’ll stumble upon during your med school life:

1. The Awesome Resident

The awesome resident has compassion for medical students because they still remember what it’s like. They remember the frustration of being a 3rd and 4th-year med student with no real responsibilities or freedom to practice medicine.

One of the main reasons for a medical student’s presence at a hospital is to watch some interesting procedures. These students want to learn new things, then get home and back to studying. They don’t want to stay late or work through lunches finishing some resident’s progress notes. Awesome residents get all of this and make teaching their residents things of value their priorities.

Generally, these are the types of residents who shine above the rest. They are usually much smarter and more efficient than their professional colleagues. These savvy doctors do their own jobs, without pawning their tasks off on their medical students.

You can really learn some unique clinical skills and knowledge from the awesome resident. Because these physicians are so understanding of the true role of medical students, most are more than happy to do what it takes to be true teachers to their residents. Any experience with this professional is a quality learning experience.

2. The Dark Resident

On the horror end of the spectrum are the dark residents. These people are very hard on medical students. They give the impression that you must work harder and longer hours than your resident to be of value. If not, you’ll never become a good doctor worthy of a medical degree. But this is simply not true.

These types of residents rule med students through fear. They make threats about giving you bad evaluations just because you don’t go out of your way to make life easier for them. That means you need to skip lunch, even if your hypoglycemia or diabetes is acting up, to finish grunt work for this horrible resident.

Dark residents want everything to go smoothly during their shifts. One wrong move and they berate you until you feel unworthy to be in their presence. For example, let’s say your resident is supposed to help you understand how to place the central line correctly in the external jugular. Instead, you get yelled at for misplacing it in the carotid, even though you only observed the procedure once.

Everything that goes wrong will always be your fault, according to dark residents. They let their egos rule their thinking. So, it’s usually simpler to just take the blame and tell them you won’t do it again.

Some dark residents are bright, others not so much. But either way, this person has the entire idea of “teaching” completely confused. The list of mundane tasks that fall under their teaching category includes calling other hospitals for medical records, calling a patient’s primary care doctor about a case the med student knows nothing about, getting the resident’s lunch, etc…

Although these types of residents can bring darkness into any room, they do have their perks. Just imagine being left alone to do your resident’s work every day. You pick up some really awesome skills you can only learn through a hands-on approach.

3. The So-So Resident

This resident is not all that bad, but not so good either when it comes to effective teaching. The so-so resident often has traits of both the awesome and the dark residents. They tend to think medical school students are simply there to follow them around the hospital. No considerations are made for eating or bathroom breaks.

Unlike the dark resident, the so-so type is not vicious directly. They become overwhelmed with their medical tasks during their shifts. So, they never take the time to utilize their medical students efficiently. Therefore, students are never engaged and simply become bored with the program.

Of course, they’ve graduated from medical school, passed their USMLEs and certifications. So, it’s obvious they are intelligent. But they aren’t quite wise enough to know when to ask med students for assistance when they become overwhelmed. They make students stand by and watch as they engage with patients, never allowing them to interact as well.

These types of residents may be awesome at patient care, but they’re useless as teachers. Yes, you may get glimpses of hope here and there as you idly stand around watching procedures and patient interactions. But by not allowing you to actually take part, the so-so resident is actually hindering you rather than helping you.

No matter how busy you are doing med school and rotations, always drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

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