On my first day of intern year, my attending corrected me in the hallway after I introduced myself to a patient by my first name. Following this, I sheepishly adopted a habit of saying “I’m Dr. Last Name” when sticking out my hand to greet a patient. In clinic, the nurses call me “Dr. Last Name,” even when saying a casual hello. When you refer to yourself as a doctor enough times, you start to believe it.
You are so soft / in voice and touch, / gliding through / the mines that are set in
I have always wanted to fly / but they wouldn’t let me / until I signed a contract / built on blood and tears
I’m supposed to be able to explain this. / The details to paint a picture. / But it’s too much, and I don’t want to relive it.
At the beginning of my intern year, I bought a ukulele. I started intern year at a sprint, like anyone does, arms full of hope. This was quickly extinguished, lost in an atmosphere so devoid of hope that it all flew out of my arms to settle into places so far apart, it might as well have been floating in the vacuum of space.
Early in intern year, I reached out to residents in other departments who were part of my patients’ care in the hospital. In an effort to redirect my thought patterns, I asked them how and what drives their interaction styles and their medical decisions.
I distinctly remember my drive to the hospital for the first shift of my residency five years ago. It was a night shift, a fact that only added to my trepidation. My brain bounced frantically back and forth among a random assortment of topics of which I lacked, I felt, sufficient knowledge, but which knowledge I felt sure I would imminently be called upon to use in a critical situation.
On Match Day, you are assigned to a new family for the next three to seven years. This will be the city where you might buy your first home, the city where you may meet the people who will speak at your wedding. An algorithm shuffles you into your assigned place in a new family tree.
A graphic medicine comic on wellness and lessons learned in the first year of family medicine residency.
Tommy became my patient about halfway through my PICU rotation. He arrived as a transfer from an outside hospital due to concern for liver failure, and on a morning when we already had four admissions, he became another checkbox on my to-do list.
I had such difficulty explaining to my family and friends not in medicine the concept of the match. I finally settled on a lottery-Bachelor fusion to explain it. Just replace the aspiring lovers with program directors and medical students, and roses with Match Day letters.
My early idea of what it meant to be a intern came from a combination of pop culture physician idols (i.e. ER) and a handful of actual medical experiences. A dive headfirst from a shopping cart at young age earned me my first trip to the emergency room.