Before Residency Starts
I have not written anything deeply personal in recent times, but I have decided to share a bit about my journey in the past few months to encourage people who might find this post helpful.
I matched into a Residency program (which is a postgraduate Training program for doctors in their desired specialty) in Internal Medicine and I would be starting residency very soon. Just typing the word "Residency" alone is giving me goosebumps.
I asked “ Siri” on my iphone what I should be doing before residency starts in June. Apparently, “Siri” is very helpful with its artificial intelligence, and gave me a list of things to do with a general theme of relaxing, chilling and having fun. A few residents had given me that advise while on the interview trail. I asked a third year resident on one of my interviews at the “resident-mixer”( a gathering to meet with resident doctors at a program to ask them questions, usually before the official interview) and the young man looked me in the eyes and said “take time out to relax, enjoy yourself, have fun, go on vacation because residency is tough and very busy”. Since that day, I honestly have lost track of how many times I have heard that statement.
It’s almost like everyone has been consistent in this prophecy of an “avalanche” of things to come. Like a harbinger of some sort of doom.
I believe after all the stress of the USMLE board examinations, the pains of all fifty-two rejections I had from various programs, the joys of a handful of interviews, the stress of traveling all over the country, trying to recover from the great drain and damage the interview trail has put on and done to, respectively, on my finances; the interviews per say, trying to get the right rank order list and being certain that I was not setting myself up for the next three years. I thought at last, the stress was over, at least for a season.
Little did I know that the wait before the match day would be nerve-racking. The harrowing wait of days and hours leading up to the actual time the email bearing "Congratulations, You Have Matched" was sent that fateful Monday was almost crushing.
The ecstatic joy of the actual match day on March 11, 2019. How I heaved a huge sign of relief and danced for joy. Finally discovering four days later that I had matched into my desired specialty- Internal Medicine at my first choice on the rank list. It was a "Happy Friday". That was the best day of my life after my wedding day and birth of my two babies. I was inundated with a lot of joy and my heart was saturated with good vibes.
Again, little did I know that, that joy would be transiently threatened by thoughts of how my life was going to change dramatically for the next couple of years. The gravity of what residency would do to your family, relationships and life generally, and the colossal responsibility of residency itself is no joke.
“This is supposed to be exciting and fun”, I had to constantly tell myself that. Several times I had to snap out of what seemed to be an out-of-body experience and acknowledge the fact that I am actually going to practice medicine again. At the time, it seemed like a sweet dream (still does) that I did not want to wake up from.
However, you cannot help being flooded with thoughts of how, perhaps, inadequately prepared you are for whatever is coming your way in terms of your career. You wonder if you have what it takes to actually save human lives or be entrusted with the most precious gift of life -another life.
I get it, that dealing with human lives could be challenging with its own measure of stress, but people need to stop taking the fun out of it with their attitude. Choose joy. You have sacrificed so much to get to this point in your life.
I know someday down the line I will look back and perhaps force a smile when the forces of the residency overwhelm me and I read this post again.
However till then, I will download common-sense and have as much fun as I can and basically enjoy the “calm” before the “storm”.
You can fathom that human beings are so insatiable. We want something so badly, then get it and start complaining like sheer ingrates.
However, you need to tell yourself that you are more than capable of handling whatever residency or life brings your way. You survived medical school. You handled USMLE Step 1. You aced Step 2 Ck. You rocked Step 2 CS. You are a star. Never believe anything less of that.
You are like a golden needle in a haystack. You were selected over thousands of other applicants because there is something special about you. Simply because someone saw something in you, that you have what it takes to be a fine doctor. That you have what it takes to survive residency.
You are a survivor, you will survive residency. You will make it.
Enjoy this time, stop stressing and believe in you freaking awesome self.
"Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your own abilities, work hard, and there is nothing you cannot accomplish".
Instagram : @funmifolaranmi