In T-minus 3 days, I will see my first patient as a real doctor. And I’ve never been more afraid in my whole life. You would think with four years of college and four years of medical school I would be prepared for this, but I’ve never felt less prepared for anything.
I started orientation last week. So far I’ve become great friends with all of my cointerns. It’s fun to meet new people, especially since they share the same interest as me since they’ve chosen to go into Internal Medicine. I can already tell that these are going to be some very important people in my life, and probably life-long friends.
I received my long white coat (which is way too big) and my badge that allows me to eat for free in the cafeteria and park in physician parking (which saves me a 5-minute walk in 120 degree heat). I’ve listened to lots of talks about professionalism and dealing with specific situations that arise in practice. I’ve downloaded almost a dozen apps onto my phone to help me look things up. I’ve been recertified in basic and advanced life support and practiced lots of procedures on simulated manikins. And I’m getting computer training tomorrow. So I should be all set. Right?!
The truth is, I’m scared out of my mind. The same thought keeps popping into my mind. What if I kill somebody? And no matter how many people reassure me that won’t happen, I can’t shake that thought from my mind.
Probably doesn’t help that my first month will be spent in the ICU. I remember my ICU rotation at this same hospital when a nurse told me she felt sorry for the poor interns who get placed in the ICU for their first rotation. I guess it was a premonition. To make matters worse, I am working my first weekend on nights in the ICU, which does not always have an attending in-house. Luckily, I’ll have a senior resident supervising me, but I have this sinking feeling there will be a record number of Codes called, and I’ll be on my own.
And aside from first day jitters, I can’t help but feel scared for the entirety of residency. I’m going to be working really long hours. I’m not going to have nearly as much time as I’ve had as a student to spend with my family. The thought of not even getting to see my daughter for 4 days at a time just gives me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. And deep down, I’m afraid that I just can’t do it.
I’m afraid I can’t be a doctor. I’m afraid my marriage won’t be able to survive residency. I’m afraid that my daughter will miss me and cry for me and I won’t be there. I’m afraid that I’ve made a huge mistake. That it’s all just too much. That I’m not good enough to do it all.
But in 3 days it doesn’t matter. Because I’m a doctor. And I’ll have patients who depend on me. And I just hope that I don’t let them down. I hope that I can handle the pressure. I trust that I’ve learned something in medical school and that I’m not completely unprepared to take care of my patients. I just hope I don’t kill anybody. One of the speakers during my orientation said it best, “You don’t get to be like everybody else anymore. But not everybody gets to call themselves doctor.”