Hello second year

4 Sep

I’ve started my second year of residency and this means a new transition to being the senior resident.

My specialty is one of the only specialties where you’re considered the senior as soon as you’re no longer the most junior.

So I have an intern (first year resident) who I’m trying to be a good mentor to, to teach how to work in the hospital, and medicine, and overall how to get the stuff that needs to get done, done. But I’m struggling.

I thought I really wanted to teach for my career but these few weeks have me questioning that. I guess it’s the first time I’ve had learners who are really struggling themselves and just have such a long way to go. I have my junior resident who is trying but just still on the very steep part of the steep learning curve. And I have my student who is learning how to do tasks quickly but is so inappropriate attitude-wise. I’m trying to look at this month with them as a way to become a better teacher myself, to find a better balance between showing someone how to do something, doing it for them (to get the work done!) and letting them struggle through to learn themselves. I don’t look forward to the (what I think will be) awkward conversation with the student, telling him basically his personality needs to change. Or at least be covered up while he’s in the hospital. Inappropriate jokes, too much singing, all that needs to stop when we’re trying to get work done.

Overall this past week I’ve had rough days. At the end of my workdays I think to myself “I hate my life” and question if I’m clinically depressed. I don’t feel like I’m learning, I feel like I just follow algorithms and take orders all day. I don’t feel like I’m becoming a better doctor. I don’t even enjoy the opportunities to try to learn (noon lectures, etc) like I used to, I just sit there arms crossed feeling annoyed that the material isn’t relevant to what I’m trying to deal with that moment. Then on my days off I feel so happy and really enjoy life. Am I just in the wrong field?

Tonight I met up with some friends and they are feeling the same way. I was told recently by a faculty member that residency is hard everywhere.. but we’re not trying to crush your souls. I’ve been trying to check in with myself — is this just normal shittiness of residency, or is my soul being crushed?

My family reminded me tonight that residency is short and I’m already almost halfway done. That once I finish, I’ll be expected to know things and I’ll probably miss all the learning opportunities that residency had for me. My brother said he wished he worked harder in residency, that he would have learned a lot more. I guess I’m feeling like I’m drowning in residency right now but I ought to remind myself it’s just a short time in my life, and that all this deluge of work and hours and sleepless time and pages and rushing is all temporary, and inside it all somewhere are opportunities to learn. From here I’ll try harder, be more grateful, and be less afraid of being wrong.

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2 Responses to “Hello second year”

  1. Barbu September 4, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    These are good and important reflections. It’s one thing to have an idea of what you’re interested in, it’s another to experience it first hand and find that it’s not the same as what you had in mind. You want to do something you look forward to everyday, but it seems like residency is rarely like that. But ask around, talk to attendings, keep questioning what it is that you really enjoy and that would make you happy, not just the idea of it, but the actual practice of it. I hear that a lot too what your brother said- that once you’re an attending, you’ll wish you maximized your learning as a resident because you’re really on your own. Residency is full of lessons we don’t realize we’re learning and it’s not fully apparent to us all the ways we’re changing personally and professionally, but we are. I think having the mindset of gratitude as you’d mentioned is important. And I think that focusing on quality patient care as first and foremost helps too. But I think it’s good that you stay critical about your experience and acknowledge the not so ideal parts of residency. As a wise person once told me… “It is what it is.”

    • Sunny September 5, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

      it is what it is! and we have a lot to be grateful for. barbu2000, always with such good words.

Whutchu sayin'

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