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UTMB Health: A Day in the Life of a PGY1 Resident

December 19, 2018

Blake Bennie, PharmD, is a PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Resident at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. His interests include infectious diseases and critical care.

UTMB Health: A Day in the Life of a PGY1 Resident
Internal Medicine
By: Blake Bennie, Pharm.D.


            My alarm clock greets me at 6:00 a.m. every morning, and it’s always the same song: “Dream Theater- 6:00”. Why? Because it’s 6:00, of course. Before I leave for the day, I set aside 5 min each for practicing my golf swing and picking up my guitar. Which brings me to my first tip for residency:

            Tip #1: Consciously set aside time for things that are important to you, but not urgent. (Strength of recommendation: Strong; Level of evidence: High)

Residency can feel overwhelming, and you could spend all of your waking hours dedicated solely to working on your rotation. But at the end of the day, and the end of your few, short weeks with your preceptor, you’ll still be the PGY-1 resident, and not the clinical expert that they have been for years. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything urgent has to run your life- but it’s important to pick a time where you do something you love. My litmus test for myself is this: if I realized that it had been a month since the last time I did this, would I be unhappy with the choices I made this past month? I would be unhappy if I realized I hadn’t picked up my golf clubs in a week, let alone a month. So set aside time to watch The Bachelor. Or watch football. Or play Fortnite.

            I make the 10-minute walk to work everyday, taking a moment to appreciate the sun beginning to rise over the beach behind me. I get to my office around 6:30, in order to be prepared for rounds at 8:30 – 9:00. No 7:00 rounds here. It’s island time. I arrive at Medical Team #1’s room and make any urgent recommendations that can’t wait until we round on that patient. Since rounds usually go from 8:30 – 12:00, it could be a significant few hours for a patient to wait, or a medication that is scheduled be to given that should be changed or discontinued. Our rounds here are very discussion-friendly, and the physician team is very accepting of pharmacy input. Topics that have come up this month include: The Office, what climate that cherries grow best in, concussions, old Latin phrases, 19th century immigration, and food (numerous times). After rounds are over at 12:00, I typically have 2 hours until I meet with my preceptor to go over patients.

            Tip #2: An apple a day keeps the doctor away

            Now, in my line of work, I actually try pretty hard to find doctors sometimes. But I’m not talking literally, of course. This next 2 hours of my day can be some of the most efficient and productive, but only if I choose to make it that way. As a resident, more so than as a student, you will have longer term commitments and longitudinal projects that, while still important, are not as urgent as other things in your day. The task of recognizing ‘when to take some time’ versus ‘when to set aside for now’ is important for your success. Kind of in line with my first tip, but these activities will loom in the distance if you let them, and then sneak up on you when you are distracted with other things. The way I try to think is this: should you take a shower every day in September for 30 days? Or wait 29 days and then take 30 showers on the last day? Sure, in both cases you’ll smell good on October 1st but I’d recommend the former.

            I meet with my preceptor at 2:00 to go over all the patients that I’m responsible for. We’ll go through their profiles with a fine-toothed comb, and look for interventions to make to the team. I tried everyday for five weeks to not leave any interventions for him to find that I had missed, but everyday I failed. As we reach a topic in a patient’s medical history, he’ll impart his knowledge on the subject to me. This continues for a few hours until all the patients have been accounted for. Then, I’ll make our interventions to the team, and we’ll be done for the day. Occasionally, I’ll assess the need to talk to a patient about a medication, such as a new discharge medication, an inhaler that is prone to mistakes, or a medication that can lead to hospitalizations- such as a patient on warfarin who was admitted for hematuria.

            After our meeting, depending on how efficient I was during that 2 hours earlier, I can go on home and grill myself some tasty burgers. If not, now’s the time to catch up on ‘maintenance’ work for my yearlong residency project or other commitments. Hopefully, at the end of the day, I can be proud of the work I put in and the value that I brought my team and my patients- and that’s worth something.

            Tip #3. Wear scrubs everyday.

-Blake Bennie

UTMB Health Pharmacy Clinical Specialists  Top Row, Left to Right: Scott Ferren, Pharm.D., BCIDP; Sonia Matthews, Pharm.D., BCPS; Michele Tieman, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCCCP; Eddie Lee Pharm.D., BCPS Bottom Row, Left to Right: Jordan Burdine, Pharm.D., MBA, BCPPS; Regina Ramirez, Pharm.D., BCPS; Bonnie Chen, Pharm.D.


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UTMB Health: A Day in the Life of a PGY1 Resident
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