on Independence….and this first week of Residency.

Firstly, congrats to my fellow 2015 doctors. We’re here. Actual doctoring is something else isn’t it?

I hope (and am confident) that many of you were not the bumbling, clueless mess that I was this past July First.

Surely we are all amateurs but I have to admit that I was beyond Jon Snow’s level on Wednesday — I literally knew nothing.


But all Game of Thrones references aside it was definitely a huge reality check. Even though I did my best to mentally prepare myself (essentially lowering expectations of my own fledgling abilities and knowledge) and even though we’ve been warned about the sudden lifestyle change by those who’ve come before us….it was still a sucker punch straight to the face.

Why does it have to be July 1 anyways? I have a theory.

I can’t speak for all of the newly graduated but one of the biggest changes I was personally looking forward to was autonomy. No more shadowing. No more writing notes that don’t actually count. No more doing things ‘just to learn’ or ‘just for practice’. I was ready to take ownership of patients and feel like I was doing something productive — something helpful.

It felt good to be assigned patients: to put in their orders, go over test results, and communicate with other physicians as a colleague. The best part? Witnessing a patient’s improvement from admission to discharge and knowing you played a major role in that positive outcome — one that involves day to day and often hour by hour medical management.

It’s not that simple or glamorous though. This newfound autonomy comes packaged with responsibility — and you can’t have one without the other. Mistakes are inevitable and thankfully no major ones occurred for me this week….though I had my fair share of poorly formatted notes, misordered lab tests, and wayward diagnoses that highlighted how much of a novice I am (good thing Medical School is followed by Residency). There was more than one occasion where I questioned whether I learned anything in med school at all. Everyday I went home thinking about my patients; mulling over treatment plans and medication doses (did I do everything I could for the patient?) — I guess we’ll never be rid of ‘homework’ in this profession.

But that’s what I find reassuringly appropriate about this First Week. On July Fourth we celebrate with pools, and barbecues, and star-spangled debauchery….but it also serves as a reminder of what Independence costs and what it took to get to where we are. We look forward to July 4 as much as senior medical students look forward to July 1. I’m biased (obvi) but this is a great country and I’m proud to be a citizen of one that stands for freedom, and marriage equality (holla), and the overall pursuit of happiness. I feel lucky. All these rights and privileges didn’t just appear out of nowhere, however, and they have to be maintained with ongoing work and progress. Sound familiar?

In the end I propose that all of this is a brilliant masterplan — another ‘oh there’s a reason for this thing I thought was just silly coincidence’. July 1 is our profession’s Independence Day. The week is ever so cleverly punctuated at the end by America’s equivalent. Am I digging too deep for a connection here? Without a doubt. But I hope others will agree with me that this week was a roller coaster mixture of nervousness and excitement….just like the calm before the final volley of a fireworks display.

Fun theory? What do you think?


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