The Curbsiders podcast

#182 Becoming a PGY3: Not Just a Repeat of PGY2

November 11, 2019 | By

Goal setting, board prep, coaching, and professional development with Josh Hartzell, Kim Fabyan and Jeff Gray (Walter Reed)

This podcast covers several concrete steps that residents can do or program directors can suggest to help residents transition to assuming the role of PGY3. A year is a long time, but requires a strategic approach to ensure that residents get the most out of it. It’s our latest offering from ACP’s IMpower series for residents featuring our friends from Walter Reed IM Residency: Joshua Hartzell MD (@joshuadhartzell); Kim Fabyan MD (@kfabsMD); Jeff Gray MD (@theotherDrGray).

The transition from PGY2 to PGY3 is a period that some trainees don’t see as a big transition. They have already done the ‘same’ things they will be doing as PGY3. The PGY3 year is, however, a critically important year for trainees to not only solidify clinical skills, but develop professionally in other areas. This is a year where residents can become more effective at conducting quality improvement, leadership, teaching, and completing research. Ultimately, the year is about residents developing their professional identity as internists. They are moving from showing and doing the skills of an interest to becoming an internist. PGY3 residents are the leaders of the residency and set the tone for everyone else. They are responsible not only for patient care, but also teaching, mentoring and ensuring the wellness of the residents and students they lead.  Patients and their families will share some of the most important moments of their lives with PGY3 residents. The students they teach will take lessons and use them for the rest of their careers. “I remember when my resident (insert your name here) taught me”. Never underestimate the impact of a senior resident. Simply put: If you are a PGY3 you should: LEAD like someone’s life depends on it!


Written and Produced by: Joshua Hartzell MD, MS-HPEd, FACP, FIDSA; Kim Fabyan MD; Jeff Gray MD

Infographics: Joshua Hartzell MD, MS-HPEd, FACP, FIDSA; Kim Fabyan MD; Jeff Gray MD

Cover Art: Matthew Watto MD, FACP

Hosts: Stuart Brigham MD; Matthew Watto MD, FACP; Paul Williams MD, FACP

Editor: Matthew Watto MD, FACP

Guests:  Joshua Hartzell MD (@joshuadhartzell); Kim Fabyan MD (@kfabsMD); Jeff Gray MD (@theotherDrGray)

Sponsor – ACP IMpower: Catalyzing your professional future

Each month, ACP IMpower offers non-clinical tools and resources expertly crafted to support residents during their training and catalyze their professional future.

Crafted by ACP leaders, experienced internists, and prominent podcasters, IMpower covers a wide variety of topics valuable to residents at every stage of their training, and beyond. Visit

PGY3 Time Stamps

00:00 Sponsor, disclaimers, intro, guest bios

05:10 Guest one-liners

07:43 Precocious Passion for teaching

09:30 Picks of the Week*: High Life (film); @MedicalPuns; The Culture Code (book); Quiet: The Power of Introverts (book); Every Patient Tells A Story (book)

14:02 How does PGY3 differ from PGY2

18:18 Coaching in Medicine

23:42 Goal setting (short, intermediate and long term)

32:25 Tips for Internal Medicine Board Prep

40:30 Skills to develop during PGY3 year

42:28 Improve your skills as a medical educator;  Developing Leadership Skills

47:47 Feedback Fridays

50:00 Coaching the PGY3 resident to run rounds

55:20 Quality improvement and IHI

56:31 Take Home Points from Josh, Kim and Jeff

60:04 Outro


Listeners will develop an approach to becoming a PGY3 that fosters professional development and sets them up for success on boards and prepares them for independent practice

Learning objectives

After this episode, listeners will be able to…

  1. Differentiate between PGY2 and PGY3 year in terms of professional development and residents’ roles in the program.
  2. Describe how coaching can be used to foster professional development.
  3. Be able to set short term, intermediate, and long-term goals.
  4. Establish a board study plan.
  5. Develop strategies to become an independent internist, educator, and leader.

  1. High Life (film) 
  2. @MedicalPuns
  3. The Culture Code (book)
  4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts (book)
  5. Every Patient Tells A Story (book)
  6. Start with Why (book) 
  7. Kotter Model for Change is an excellent resource for those interested in quality improvement

*The Curbsiders participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising commissions by linking to Amazon. Simply put, if you click on my links and buy something we earn a (very) small commission, yet you don’t pay any extra.


Doctors Hartzell, Fabyan and Gray report no relevant financial disclosures. The Curbsiders report no relevant financial disclosures. 


Hartzell J, Fabyan K, Gray J, Williams PN, Brigham SK, Watto MF. “#182 Becoming a PGY3: Not Just a Repeat of PGY2”. The Curbsiders Internal Medicine Podcast. November 11, 2019.

CME Partner


The Curbsiders are partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer FREE continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Visit and search for this episode to claim credit.

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