This March, interns will be one year status-post The Match. As the PGY-2 year fast approaches, we seek reflections from interns on the transition from medical school to post-grad life, expectations of intern year versus the reality of intern year, and on the trials and tribulations of your first year as a practicing physician. Whether it be advice for the incoming class of interns, or meaningful patient stories that shaped your year, or your tips for personal wellness, or snippets from your personal notes or journals, we seek all reflections on the formative first year of being in-house.
Parking Lot Epiphany: My First Patient as a Physician
Dominic Decker, MD, MS, internal medicine resident at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Being There: A Reflection by a Father and Family Medicine Intern
Kevin Dueck, MD, family medicine resident at McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences
Perfection, Community, Gratitude: What Residency Has Taught Me So Far
D. Kesley Robertson, MD, obstetrics and gynecology resident at Emory University School of Medicine
Mamtha Raj, MD, plastic surgery resident at Lehigh Valley Health Network
Surviving Residency: 5 Tips You Didn’t Know You Already Knew
Marc Katz, MD, internal medicine resident at Drexel University College of Medicine
My Thoughts on Intern Year, Expressed Through a History & Physical
Morgan Shier, MD, family medicine resident at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital
Two Years Post the Match: A PGY-2 Story
Sarab Sodhi, MD, emergency medicine resident at Cooper University Hospital
Santa Claus Pajamas
Sanyukta Janardan, MD, pediatrics resident at Yale School of Medicine
Writing Contest Winner: in-House Readers’ Choice Award
Dominic Decker, MD, MS
I discovered the transformative power of narrative in the early morning sunlight of my grandmother’s kitchen, where I would listen to and tell stories before school. Rather than ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, my grandma asked how my life would look. My earliest conception of that life was to become a “baby doctor in Hawaii.” And though I’m now training in internal medicine in Rhode Island, I credit my grandma with cultivating my desire to create and my teachers with honing my craft as a writer. Those teachers introduced me to works that first taught me how to enter into the experience of another and profoundly shaped my life.
From high school, knowing I wanted to eventually practice medicine, I decided to study English literature at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. It was there that I discovered my affinity for American writers and was introduced to Zora Neale Hurston and her book Their Eyes Were Watching God. In it, the story of Janie Crawford is beautifully told to her friend Phoeby Watson. As Hurston writes, “Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Janie talked.” This moment of profound connection between two people, achieved through storytelling, lent way to the realization that both literature and medicine are vehicles whereby we closely encounter and begin to intimately understand the human condition.
With this knowledge, I completed a master’s degree in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. This burgeoning field, which recognizes that the story exchanged between patient and health care provider is the cornerstone of medical practice, allowed me to develop a toolkit of self-reflective practices that I’ve used in medical school at the University of Minnesota and residency at Brown University. I’ve continued to strive, and oftentimes failed, to read regularly through my intern year. In doing so, I’ve encountered moving prose in the works of authors as varied as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Maylis de Kerangal.
Reading has naturally compelled me to write. My first piece for in-House recounted coming face-to-face with my first patient, an elderly woman found down in a parking lot, the day after my medical school graduation. Returning to this writing almost one year later gives me pause and fosters in me a sense of wonder at my growth. Writing about personal experiences encountered during training gives them new meaning in retrospect. It’s a practice I continue to cultivate and aspire to deepen.