From the very first day of medical school, doctors-in-training (residents) are molded into competent practitioners. TV glamorizes this as a nearly overnight process, when in reality becoming a physician with the wealth of knowledge patients expect and deserve takes nearly a decade to cultivate. Ten years are just the start, because I’m only referring to medical school (4 years) plus an average-length residency program (3-4 years). Our graduation ceremony is only six days away; it’s made me think about… everything!
Many new attending (full) physicians tell me they learned the most during the first couple of years post-residency. For those who seek specialization (like myself), this formal training period often adds 3-4 years (called ‘fellowship’), for a total training time of 10-11 years.
The Love of Medicine & ‘Senioritis‘
It’s OK to take time for yourself. I love my career. I love taking care of patients, seeing them heal, and feel better. I am grateful for the privilege to practice medicine. To add the proverbial cherry on top, I also have the opportunity to teach patients, families, nurses, and students everything I know about medicine. In my opinion, practicing medicine as a doctor is my life’s greatest accomplishment.
Internal Medicine residency is three years. If you ask for an (honest) opinion, 99% of graduating internal medicine residents will tell you in the last month of residency training, they caught a case of “senioritis.” Definitions vary, but basically it’s the temporary sensation of nearing the end of a program with the desire to take up old (or new) hobbies. Yes, even doctors are humans! Doctors have emotions, too!
Each resident assuages their end-of-the-year senioritis with fun/relaxing hobbies. Everyone goes about it differently. I can tell you that I’ve taken up video games (Xbox, and recently PC) once again, a favorite pastime of mine. I re-introduced myself to exercise. I look at it as catching up on fun hobbies that, for much of residency, took a backseat. There are innumerable stories from friends/colleagues that paint a similar picture.
Productive change is always good. I define it as any action or change in thought pattern that improves my career and quality of life. With the end of residency comes the start of a new journey. However, emerging from the senioritis mindset takes a bit of encouragement. Before I begin fellowship, I remind myself that reading textbooks and studying question banks serves one primary purpose: improving medical knowledge for the benefit of patients.
It is with that concept in mind that I tell myself to once again get into “study mode.” My ABIM exam is in August, and with a long-distance move up north to start fellowship, marks busy days ahead. Productive change! 🙂
Photo credit: Simon Migaj