There comes a time after every exam where I find myself sitting on the couch wondering what on earth I should be doing. I get so used to studying that when I don’t have to anymore, I kind of forget what else there is. I’m not saying I study all the time, but I definitely think about studying if I’m not. There is always this little voice in the back of my head making me feel guilty and reminding me that I should be studying.
So…here I am. Not studying. Figured I might as well write a new post. I think I am just kind of in a temporary state of shock. I cannot believe it’s spring break. Where on earth did this year go? It seems like just yesterday it was summer and classes were starting. I remember thinking, “I hope this year goes fast.” And…here I am…wishing it would slow down.
The past few weeks I have realized that I am almost done with classes. Like…forever. It is both thrilling and terrifying. The other day someone in my class noted that we only have two pharmacology lectures left. That was about the scariest thing I have ever heard. I feel like I know nothing about pharmacology…certainly not enough to prescribe drugs!
Some days I am in amazement at how much I now know about medicine. And other days I feel like I could cry because of how much information there is and how much I have yet to learn. I am sure that part of it is pregnancy hormones and the fact that I am not just starting rotations in a few months…I am going to be a mom in a few months. And that is even more terrifying than seeing patients.
For as much as I have learned in two short years, I guess I thought I would know more…be more prepared. I know that just because I am almost done with classes, I am not done learning. I will learn a ton more in the next two years during rotations, but…I guess I am just scared. Scared for rotations. Scared for when my attending asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to. Scared to perform procedures for the first time and make mistakes. Scared for the day somebody codes and they ask me to do CPR. And, ultimately, I am scared for the day that somebody turns to me and says, “Dr. Howard, what do you want to do?”
I never thought I would be scared to be a doctor, but I am. It’s my dream, and it’s all I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but the closer it gets, the more terrified I am. Doctors are experts. They are supposed to be cool under pressure and have all the answers. Ya…that isn’t me. I feel even less ready to take on the responsibilities of a physician than I did when I started med school. Am I going to feel even less prepared in two years when I actually become a doctor?
I wish I knew the answer. I hope there is a special moment sometime in the future in which I know for sure that I am ready. That all of a sudden I can see everything clearly, and I really feel like a doctor. Sadly, I don’t think that happens. I don’t think I walk across the stage, get my diploma, and suddenly become a doctor. I think it is a process. A process I’ve already begun, and one that will continue long after I graduate. I don’t know if I will ever really feel ready.
The funny thing is I feel a lot the same way about having a baby…the closer it gets the more terrified I am. What do I know about raising a baby!? But the fact is, this baby is coming whether I am ready or not. And the same thing goes for being a doctor.
Hey Emily– I just wanted to let you know that you are 100% not alone in your feelings. I’ve been reading your blog since I randomly happened upon it two years ago when I too started medical school (at the University of Washington). I’m on spring break of my second year as well and I was just talking with my friends today about how we are all terrified of transitioning out of the classroom and into the “real world” of medicine. My husband and I are also trying to consider if/when we should have a baby. So, just know, even if you don’t feel ready to be a doctor, or a mom, there are other students out there that feel the exact same way. And, it’s just like you said, it’s a process and we will probably never feel ready –which is partly why we chose medicine in the first place I think, we like challenges. Thanks for your posts.