We Should All Fear July 1st!
July 1st has come and gone without any harm done! This is a scary day in the medical field because this is when all the brand new interns start residency. Being fresh out of medical school, these new doctors are excited, scared, and full of energy. They want to get their hands dirty and practice real medicine. Instead of sitting through hours of lectures, they are going to treat real patients. This is such an exciting step in our medical career, but it is a fearful day for everyone else around them!
I remember the moment my husband and I found out that we matched together into Internal Medicine, we were so excited to start. We did the seemingly impossible and got into a residency together!!! We immediately started preparing for the next step of our lives, picking out a new apartment and preparing for the move. It was exciting and scary at the same time, we were finally getting to start practicing medicine after spending the last 8 years studying.
My July 1st
As the first day approached, my nerves increased. Was I ready for this? Could I actually practice medicine? What if I hurt a patient, or worse, one of my patients died? I showed to my first day 15 minutes early, got checkout from the night residents, and then immediately got hit with a stupid stick! I was so lost, I had no idea what was going on. Nurses were asking about diets and pain meds. Case managers were yelling to discharge patients. This was not what I had learned in medical school! Suddenly, even the thought of ordering Tylenol was paralyzing. What if they have unknown liver disease? What if their pain was something life threatening and not just a typical headache.
It was information overload and it sucked! I was so fortunate to have 2 of the best senior residents looking after me during that first month. They calmed me down and were so patient those first couple of days.
As the month progressed, I regained my confidence. I was throwing out diet orders, Tylenol, and discharges like a pro. The month came to a close and I started to embrace the fact that I was working in the ICU next. I would start this next month without a day off, a glorious 16 days straight of 12+ hour shifts. But I was ready, right? Nope! Not even close to ready! This time I wasn’t dealing with diets and Tylenol, these patients were actually dying. I mean, it was like the they knew I was there and they were trying to die. I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. I was throwing around pressors, ventilators, and defibrillators but how much knowledge of these complicated medicines and diseases did I really have? The stress was so bad that I couldn’t eat. I would get home and pour myself into bed so I could wake up 6 hours later and do it all over again.
It Felt Like Death
These first months defined me as a resident. I came out of that ICU ready for anything residency threw at me. The exhaustion was so bad I didn’t even feel it anymore. I looked like a zombie walking through the hospital. I lost more patients in that month then the rest of my entire intern year. But I survived it, and you know what, I loved it! Medicine was fascinating to me and how unbelievable was it that I was learning to save lives. I still had so much to learn, but those first two months of residency proved to be the most intense as of yet. I went through the rest of my intern year exhausted, hungry, and cranky but still coming back every day for the love of medicine.
Now it is time to watch the next batch of interns face the next few months with fear and excitement. They too will survive it and come out of it stronger and very tired!