Monday, June 29, 2015

On the Eve of Residency

On March 15, I was hired as a doctor. Sort of.

March 15 was Match Day. I walked up to a stage (to a mandatory 30 seconds of music that I had to buy; I picked "Son of Man," by Phil Collins) and picked up an A6 manila envelope. I opened it, with all other medical students nationwide, at noon and discovered where I will spend the next four years learning to take care of patients. To my great joy, it was my first choice: my discernment had been correct, and God chose what I'd chosen. I left the Match Day ceremony early (before I even pinned my picture over my new home) and went to Mass with my mother. I spent thirty minutes after Mass in deep happiness in front of the tabernacle, thinking of how good God is and how much He loves us. He had loved me into a program that had everything I wanted, and (so I've already discovered) far more than I knew. I'd signed a contract as a physician. So I was hired as a doctor, sort of.

On May 9, I became a doctor. Sort of.

May 9 was graduation. I walked across another stage in a tam and robes with green chevrons. (As a TACer or maybe just because I like "distinctive dress," I appreciate the meaning of regalia and feel honored and dignified in it.) It was deeply satisfying to accept my diploma and attain the goal I had hoped for, however vaguely, since I was four. I remarked to my father that I enjoyed this graduation more than my TAC graduation, because I did not understand what the last year of TAC was for, but I had understood my medical education. Medical education is an imperfect but powerful experience, and I'd completed it. Sort of.

On June 16, I started my new job as a doctor. Sort of.

June 16 saw the beginning of orientation. I'd moved in the day before, after a day-long drive to my new state, and a week-long retreat in solitude (final preparation for the consecration). I didn't have a stick of furniture, apart from my kneeler. I had to borrow the next month's rent from my parents. During orientation I scrambled in my new city to find Masses, grocery stores, gas stations, post offices, employee health clinics, pharmacies, train stations, and a dozen conference rooms in two hospitals. I ostensibly learned how to operate a new electronic health record, how to meet the expectations of me are on each rotation, how to resucitate patients during codes, how to do obstetrical procedures, and how to triage women who present to the hospital. So I was ready to act like a doctor, sort of.

On July 1, I will actually be a doctor. (Sort of.)

I will be one of the thousands of "interns," first-year physicians who are still learning the ropes of patient care. I will be rounding on antepartum and postpartum, and signing prescriptions. I'll work the night shifts over the holiday and I'll evaluate and manage (and maybe deliver) patients. During the rest of July I will be learning to perform ultrasounds, and in August I'll be working nights as one of the four awake OB/GYNs in the hospital. September, I'll be on labor and delivery during the days; October, I'll be working full-time in the resident clinic (30ish patients per half-day, NBD). November and December will be more time in labor and delivery, and some time in the OR for gynecology. And in 2016, we'll repeat those six months over again. By the end of it, I hope that I will have actually been someone's doctor. (There will be lots and lots of help to get me to that end-point, which is why I tacked on "sort of" again.)

Right now, I'm afraid. I'm excited to see patients and manage them, but that excitement is proportional to my confidence that this will be easy (i.e. that I have knowledge in my head about what to do when I see them). My confidence is quite low, so my excitement is very small. Instead, since I hear all these comments about how July is hard and interns start out slow, I'm very scared!

I'm trying to remember that God loves me, that slowness in the first few months of residency doesn't matter in the grand scheme of becoming a saint. That even if I am embarrassed and am the last resident in the class (which I may be; these people are all SUUUUUPER qualified and have advanced degrees and research and children), if I remain with Jesus throughout each day, it doesn't matter.

But prayers will be appreciated, because on Wednesday I'll be an intern. I am excited to begin this new chapter, but I need God's help to stay peaceful, more than I need my upper-levels' help to be a better intern.

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