They say the jump from medical student to intern, which is the infamous and grueling first year of residency, is the steepest. Of course, I heard that same thing about the jump from MS2 preclinical year to MS3 clinical year and from resident to attending and from young attending to seasoned attending. So who knows? By this point in my medical career, if nothing else, I am very comfortable with being uncomfortable. Or at least very used to it. Willingness to deal with uncertainty is must-have in emergency medicine after all.
What I do know is that MS4 year was awesome. This last year of medical school was truly wonderful and revitalizing. You can have dinner with your family and friends again; you can read a book just for fun; you can actually sleep the number of hours that you recommend to patients, and then some.
Now, with my very newly minted MD, I’m finally making the big jump from medical student to doctor. It took four years to reach the top of the medical student totem pole, and I enjoyed those good times while they lasted. Now, the reward for reaching the top is to start back at the bottom of the “real doctor” totem pole. It’s okay because, by this point, I’ve also grown very accustomed to perpetually being at the bottom of a totem pole.
So why would I choose to start a blog now? At the end of the most carefree period of my life/career and the beginning of what many have told me is the most challenging phase of my medical training? Well, that’s easy. For my sanity and my patients.
Once upon a time, I was a normal human being. I loved to read and write. I had interests and normal reactions to things.
Let me illustrate further what I mean with a simple example. Diarrhea. When people hear about diarrhea, they are generally grossed out, as normal people are, so I’m told. Now, after the brainwashing that is medical training, I’m intrigued about your diarrhea and have a million questions for you regarding it. I want to know the color, odor, consistency, presence of blood…something has happened to me.
I wish I had documented that change in myself more. I wish I wrote more in medical school. So that’s why I’m going to do a better job of it in residency. I want to be able to trace that gradual evolution and at least still recognize the individual in the white coat that I see in the mirror. Physicians are storytellers at heart; patients tell us stories; we present stories to one another. We collect and tell stories all day long. I think the best doctors are the still the ones who remind themselves and remember why they chose to don the white coat in first place.
Medicine is the best job in the world. The training and day to day work can be a little rough on your soul, creativity, and humanity. I have to do what I can to try to preserve and save them.