The following manuscript was published as part of the March 2019 s/p The Match — One Year Later theme issue.
“Good morning, I’m Dr. Watt and I’m going to be taking care of you today.”
The first time I said the phrase, it felt heavy on my tongue, clunking and flopping before coming out. The next hundred times didn’t feel much smoother. The title didn’t seem to fit yet. After four years of Melanie, the medical student, the switch to the long-awaited title felt like wearing borrowed clothes.
I got the title with my degree, but that’s not when I truly felt like a doctor. It was the small moments, all added together, that made me grow into that initially ill-fitting title.
The first time I called a patient’s wife to tell her that his heart was slowing and she needed to get to the hospital, quickly.
The first time I looked someone in the eye and said, “Yes, this could be cancer.”
When I experienced the first bittersweet moment of handing an infant to a foster parent.
A grandmother’s hug when I connected her to the resources to help her granddaughter.
Crying with a nine-year-old after the death of his best friend.
Telling a teenager how brave he is for sharing his sexual assault story.
Hearing about a cancer patient’s wish to fish the Louisiana coast one more time.
Older women commenting that I’m a “mighty young doctor,” but they were so proud to see women doing things in this man’s world.
A year after the Match and the title fits a little better now. Not perfectly, no. Slowly, in pain felt and hands held and stories shared, I grew.