Making the Rounds

Meet Your Match | Your relocation plan, with Leif Knight, MD

Episode Summary

Get tips for navigating your upcoming move to your residency program's location. Leif Knight, MD (they/them) is a first-year emergency medicine resident at Brown University and shares their experience weighing the factors before they made their big move. As an AMA member, they serve as a delegate for the Residents & Fellows Section as well as Vice Chair of the LGBTQ+ section counsel with the AMA.

Episode Transcription

Featured topic and speakers

Get tips for navigating your upcoming move to your residency program's location. Leif Knight, MD (they/them), is a first-year emergency medicine resident at Brown University and shares their experience weighing the factors before they made their big move. As an AMA member, they serve as a delegate for the Residents & Fellows Section as well as vice chair of the LGBTQ+ section counsel with the AMA.



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Dr. Knight: So we all come out of med school with different debt, different savings. I think for me having comfort, convenience and wellness was my focus. Other folks may not need that, and it wouldn't make sense to spend money for that. I think at the end of the day, we will be physicians and everything will be okay.

Unger: That is Dr. Leif Knight, first-year emergency medicine resident at Brown University.

Dr. Knight: But you have to think a little intentionally as you're making these decisions.

Unger:  On this episode of Making the Rounds, Dr. Knight shares how they navigated relocating after Match. They share factors to consider as you prepare to relocate for the start of your residency training in July. Here’s AMA senior news writer, Brendan Murphy.

Murphy: Hello and welcome to Making the Rounds. I'm Brendon Murphy, senior news writer at the AMA. Today I'm talking with Dr. Leanna Knight. They also go by Leif. Dr. Knight is a first-year emergency medicine resident at Brown University in Providence. They are an active AMA member and serve as a delegate for the Resident & Fellows Section as well as vice chair of the LGBTQ + section council at the AMA. Dr. Knight was founding chair of the Committee on Disability Affairs within the AMA's Medical Student Section. Welcome Dr. Knight, how are you today?

Dr. Knight: Thank you so much for having me, Brendan. I'm doing really well.

Murphy: Well, judging by all your lengthy accomplishments, we're very lucky to have you and you're very busy. So, we do appreciate your time.

Dr. Knight: I appreciate that.

Murphy: Match Week is over and most newly matched students will start to make a plan to relocate. You had kind of a unique circumstance when you relocated and took a very proactive approach and that's why we're excited to learn more about it with you today. Can you tell us more about your Match circumstances?

Dr. Knight: Yeah, absolutely. So, I matched to Brown University. I was going to medical school in upstate New York at University of Rochester. So, I had to move about seven hours from University of Rochester to Providence, Rhode Island. I think that there's a lot of challenges to think about when you're getting ready to move for residency. I think you're juggling a lot of things. So, I was juggling finishing medical school, graduating, starting residency. There's a couple of things that are really important to think about. When am I supposed to sign this lease? When am I supposed to move?

For me, I took kind of a unique approach, like you said, Brendan. I decided that I was going to try to make things happen sooner rather than later. So, I signed my lease by the end of March, and I moved a week before graduation. For me, it was really important that I protected that time that we get, that little bit of time that we get after graduation, but before residency starts. So that way I would be able to relax and unwind. I think it's very difficult to make that move the later that it gets. So, I just wanted to go on ahead and put in the energy and effort early, even though that was going to make the end of fourth year a little bit more complicated for me.

Murphy: Did your program offer you any guidance? Did current residents give you insight on the places that might be more convenient to live?

Dr. Knight: Yeah, so I was really lucky. At Brown, our GME office reached out to us. They have a contact with the publisher of an apartment and condominium directory, and then our program itself reached out with some advice. I'm a little bit older than your average resident, so I've leased a lot of apartments and houses over the years so I didn't really partake of any of that. But the one thing that I really am so glad that I did is I've sat down with a couple of the residents before I moved and found out what are the different areas, what is in those areas, like what could I expect living there, what are the prices like there, how far away is it, do a lot of people live in one area or the other? And that information is why I ended up in an area that I'm just absolutely delighted to live in.

Murphy: So you're moving several hundred miles and that requires for many people some in-person effort. How'd you go about that? How'd you find a place? How'd you sort of live in two different geographies and navigate all that?

Dr. Knight: Yeah, it's a lot to navigate. I think I kind of broke it down into like what do I need to do in the short term, the medium term and the long term. So short term, I needed to find decide what I wanted in a house. So, what would I like to have versus what do I absolutely have to have? What are my non-negotiables? Once I figured out what those things were, I was able to work actually pretty remotely to find the right place that would fit me. And the nice thing about doing it early was that I was able to get exactly what I was looking for. The more that you wait, especially in a competitive market, which Providence was that … I think most places are pretty competitive now. But the earlier you're able to do that, the more that you're able to kind of get those things that you're really interested in. Before we started looking for a place, we broke it down into if we moved within a couple of hours if we moved within eight hours or if we moved across the country.

And we actually went around our house and put stickers of different colors on different pieces of furniture. So, we knew what we were going to take with us once we figured out where we were going. Then we, because we were going seven, eight hours, we decided that we were going to sell a lot of our furniture and not take a lot of it with us to kind of cut down on the amount of effort we were going to have to put into this moving process. There is some effort into selling stuff on Facebook marketplace or wherever you end up selling it, but it's easier, at least for me, and brings me more joy to be able to buy new things in my new place than to, you know, have to cart a bunch of heavy furniture across the country. And then in the long term, it's figuring out how you're going to move. For me, it was a little bit easier because we'd gotten rid of so much stuff, but we still had to get a U-Haul and we actually got a couple of movers for an hour on each end of our trip in order to not be alone moving this furniture and to not ask other residents, who are also busy, to move our furniture for us.

Murphy: Movers are always worth it in my opinion. So, once you knew you were moving to Providence, how'd you start your search?

Dr. Knight: So, we had already kind of split out a few different, like my top three kind of had some decent idea of places that we might be interested in. As soon as we found out we were going to Providence, we really narrowed down. Honestly, it was a little bit of a manic search. We knew that we had some non-negotiables, and so we ... through Zillow and Facebook and basically any rental website. We just looked and we were able to find something pretty quickly.

Murphy: What were the non-negotiables and what would you classify as your nice to haves?

Dr. Knight: Yeah, it's an important differentiation to make. So, for me, I have three cats. They're absolutely non-negotiable. Those are my children. They're coming with me if I have to live in a cardboard box. Everything else I can kind of negotiate about, I really value like my time, and I was very worried that I was going to be tired and not have a lot of it. So being close to the hospital was really important.

And the thing to remember that you don't really recognize always as a med student is there are usually multiple campuses that you may have to go to. And so, I ended up 10 minutes from the main campus and two minutes from one of our pretty often to go to hospitals. So, I'm kind of right in the middle, which means that my commute is very short.

In your commute, you have to multiply by two. You know, you're going to be going to work and coming home from work. And sometimes you're going to be very tired. So, for me, I really, really valued that. Another thing that I want to plug is the … you know, if you're in the Northern part of the United States, the winters can be really depressing. And I think having natural light has made a big difference for me. I definitely would make that a non-negotiable from here on out as long as I'm up here in Rhode Island.

And then the one other thing that we really cared about was my partner is someone who remote works. And if you have someone who is going to be in the house while you are doing these crazy hours and weird turnarounds—it is probably important that you have separate space and that their office is far enough from where you're sleeping that you will be able to sleep and sleep well at really weird hours and then not bother them by being up moving around in the middle of the night or coming home while they're trying to sleep.

Murphy: So, you got your must haves, where'd you make compromises?

Dr. Knight: Well, for me, we ended up paying a lot more than I would have wanted to. I think that's a place that often you end up compromising. For us, that was okay because there's two of us. We're a dual income household. For some of my co-residents, it's been pretty hard being in … like they made the sacrifices for a nice place to live, but then they can't always come out or they might not be able to go skiing when they want to go skiing because resident pay—it’s okay, but it is not amazing. The other thing that we sacrificed on was a yard. I would love to have a yard. I would love to have my hammock out there, but that is not something that we have. We have a beautiful apartment—there is no place to be outside, but luckily we're in a neighborhood where I can go to a park nearby.

Murphy: So, what kind of living situation did you end up with?

Dr. Knight: I ended up in this cute little duplex situation where my neighbors are on top and we're on the bottom. And it's pretty new construction. So, everything works really well, looks nice, just highly functional. And it's in a beautiful neighborhood. It's … you know, I can go half a block to go get breakfast or dinner. And there's lots of little shops. So, I'm very happy where I live.

Murphy: How many bedrooms, bathrooms?

Dr. Knight: Three bedrooms, two baths. So, my partner actually got the master for their office because it is maximally far away, and they work really hard. So, I wanted them to have kind of their own space. And then on the other end of the house, we have my … like our shared bedroom and my yoga room/office.

Murphy: As you approach this move with a partner, what's that dynamic like? There has to be a measure of diplomacy, I imagine.

Dr. Knight: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There definitely is. I think each relationship is different. Sometimes people are moving with another resident or another medical professional. My partner is not in medicine. I think there's a maximum to the amount of neuroticism I can have in my household. I think for us, it was really important that they had a say, because they haven't had a say for a lot of my medical education, and they've been an amazing support. So, some of the things that were non-negotiables for us were for them, because I wanted them to finally have what they wanted. I think another part of our story that is probably not unique is that they sold their house to move with me. And so, we had to go through that process as well of, you know, cleaning, real estate agents, getting ready to sell, which is probably another part of the reason that we sold a lot of our stuff, because there's only so many things that you can do in those three months. So, I think I would urge people to just be as kind and as willing to negotiate with their partners as they possibly can be because this medical education bit is really challenging for the people who love us.

Murphy: You mentioned pricing. How would you recommend residents consider that? There's a 50-30-20 rule for some people. Is that possible to follow?

Dr. Knight: I mean, it's possible. I think it really is person-dependent. So, we all come out of med school with different debt, different savings. I think for me having comfort, convenience and wellness was my focus. Other folks may not need that, and it wouldn't make sense to spend money for that.  I think at the end of the day, we will be physicians and everything will be okay. But you have to think a little intentionally as you're making these decisions. Maybe mock up a little budget and see what you might be able to do with whatever salary you just found out you're going to have.

Murphy: You're coming up on a year as a resident. Is there anything you would have done differently in your housing search? Is there anything you wish you had? Are you considering moving?

Dr. Knight: It's wild. It's wild. I'm about a year into being a doctor. This is ... You just don't see it coming until it's already here. I honestly, when we were initially looking, we actually at first really thought about getting our own house and maybe buying a duplex ourselves and being able to rent out one of the apartments to a co-resident, but we're really happy here and it turns out we're in love with our neighbors and we cat-sit for each other so I think we're going to stay another year and then maybe, if everything goes well, we might actually buy a duplex with them which would be really awesome but that's like a very unique situation. I think there's a lot of people who maybe have some regret. It's a very complicated process.

Give yourself some grace. You will find a place. And truthfully, it's a year-long lease. So, at the end of the year, you can always find another place. You'll know the area that you're in so much better. You'll know where you want to be. You'll know what your non-negotiables are a lot better once you've been here for a little while. The important thing is to find a place.

Murphy: Do you have any other thoughts or advice?

Dr. Knight: I think my main takeaway that I want people to get from this is that this is a really stressful time, and the truth is that I think it's important to give yourself some grace. Not everyone has the same level of experience, not everyone is taking the same classes or electives or has the same amount of time and honestly not a lot, not all of us have the same level of energy coming into doing all of these things at the same time. The truth is, you will find a place, you will move, you will be a resident. I just encourage you to think really intentionally about what you want to get out of these next few months and then plan accordingly. For me, I really wanted that extra time after graduation to be able to just relax, but maybe that time for you is right now, and that's okay.

Murphy: That is very helpful advice and after they move, now that they've matched, on July 1, they will start as a doctor. So that is wonderful advice for our resident audience, our soon to be resident audience, pardon me. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with our listeners, Dr. Knight.

Dr. Knight: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Brendan. It's been a delight.

Murphy: I'm AMA Senior News Writer, Brendan Murphy. Thanks for listening to Making the Rounds.

Unger: The AMA is here to help you master the process to secure a residency match. Learn more at Thanks for listening.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this podcast are those of the participants and/or do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.