As I reflect on the year that was, I am excited and yet terrified of what lies ahead. Intern year is unlike any other during which the training wheels—otherwise known as the short white coat—are abruptly stripped. The mannequins are traded for breathing patients, the co-signatures are traded for signatures, and the infamous “I am just the medical student” transitions to the equally unassuming “I am just the intern.” Here are my takeaways from the year that was.
- When seeing my annual schedule, monthly call schedule, or expectations, there is a consistent and replicable set of feelings: a) there is no way I can do that; b) I cannot believe I am doing that; c) I can’t do this forever!; d) what was life like before I had to do this; e) okay, but really, when is this going to end?
- The learning curve is real. Since the initial transition from high school to college, counselors, professors, and even parents have talked about the challenging transition ahead. This is the first transition that truly has been challenging in every possible way – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It gets easier with time because it becomes second nature and just as you master it, you move on to the following year.
- Your team of co-residents and medical students becomes your new family, albeit changing in personality and size approximately every thirty days. Your intensive care unit family is even stronger. It is easy to forget about your real family and friends because they are often far away, you are awfully busy, and they simply do not understand what you do on a daily basis. FaceTime and mini getaways kept my mind fresh and relationships strong.
- This too shall pass. All things eventually end, whether it is thirty days in the ICU, a weekend alone on the wards without any senior residents, or even the glorious fourteen day vacation.
- Success is no longer defined as being the most intelligent or how high your board scores are. It has been redefined as working hard, being persistent, being a team player, and making those around you better.
House of God was a more illustrious and exciting version of my intern year but there were definitely some legitimate comparisons. As I embark on my PGY-2 year, I am certain that many of the above takeaways will continue to exist, and many new challenges will arise.