Resident Life


Both inside and outside the hospital, resident life is more than just work.


Residency isn’t always going to be easy, and taking care of human beings is serious business. That’s why we take any chance we can to laugh, have a good time, or chat openly with one another. Residents and interns feel comfortable discussing clinical care, professional development, or just day-to-day life with each other and the staff. 


We hold a resident free-day four times a year, during which all the residents leave the hospital and do something fun together. Historically this has included paintball, snowboarding, axe-throwing, and more!

We also hold one resident retreat annually. All residents retreat to an idyllic cabin somewhere in Washington for a weekend, where we do team-building activities, hang out, cook for each other, go hiking, and more.

Explore the beauty of washington state

Washington is home to some of the best hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting, snowsports, and watersports you can find! Many of our residents love the outdoors and we know some of the best trails to explore. 

The city is next door

Not really an outdoors person? That’s okay, some of us can relate! Luckily, the brewery and culinary scenes in Tacoma are top tier. Seattle is a short drive up north, where you can visit the famous Pike’s Place Market or visit the space needle. Or, consider taking a day trip down to Portland, a truly one-of-a-kind city known for its unique culture and amazing food truck scene.

Frequently asked questions

(answered by residents!)

Residents live as far North as Kent/Des Moines (15min from downtown Seattle) and as far South as Olympia (the state Capital). This means you could live in a high rise apartment (downtown Tacoma, WA) or something rather rural (a previous resident had a farm in Roy, WA).

Washington has exceptional employment and educational opportunities. Major tech jobs are found in Seattle, while Olympia offers government positions aplenty. In regard to education, the University of Washington has campuses in both Tacoma and Seattle – with six years your significant other could knockout a PhD while you’re busy (or just take an interesting class)!

Many Washingtonians feel Washington is too beautiful to share. So to drive away outsiders, there is a sinister conspiracy to spread this myth worldwide! But don’t be fooled – check out the data:

Spending time away from home will always be challenging, but the experience we get at outside rotations is well worth the trip. The program takes care of local housing and parking for rotations far from Madigan (such as in Seattle). Residents within a class get good flexibility in planning the upcoming year’s rotation schedule, so you can plan around your life.

Call intensity varies at outside rotations, but always complies with ACGME standards. With the exception of the TICU and trauma service at Harborview, outside night call is typically home-call. When back at Madigan, 24-hour call is pulled approximately q6-7 days for junior residents. Chief residents are on back-up night call either q2 or q3. Other residency programs at Madigan rotate through General Surgery and help to take call, which is why the junior call schedule is relatively light. There are dedicated call rooms for General Surgery both in the resident room and the Emergency Room. A night team usually consists of an attending supervisor and an R1 or R2, along with a back-up chief who is at home.

For most of us, nights are actually something we like to do because the staff give us independence to make decisions, but they are also available within a moment’s notice if we need help.

On weekends, a small General Surgery “super-team” stays in house and attends to patient care for all teams. The rest of the on-service residents don’t come in on that weekend.

Although there is variation throughout the year in how often a resident is on a weekend super-team (it depends on how many residents are available at the time), on average we get roughly two full weekends off each month while we are on a Madigan-based rotation. The other two weekends, we work a super-team and get one day off.

Just about everyone loves this system because of how many two-day weekends we get!

Kaitlyn Morte (2022) has a great perspective on this question:

“As a resident who had a child during training, I have been very fortunate to be in such a supportive program. The staff were completely understanding and my co-residents covered down for me while I was on maternity leave. My husband, Doug, is also a resident with the program! Our rotation and call schedule is always thoughtfully arranged to make sure we can take care of daughter. It really highlighted for me how this program is a second-family.”

Sure! Check out some of the pictures at the top of the page! On Thursdays after academics, we usually play soccer (or some other sport) and in the evening hang out at one of the local favorite watering holes. Four times a year we have resident free day; some of our favorite things to do for these days include skiing/snowboarding, paintballing, wine-tasting, and bowling.