Doctor for a Month

So I’ve officially been pulling off this whole “doctor” thing for a month!  It has gone very fast, but yet it feels like forever.  I’ve gotten less sleep, skipped more meals, and cried more times that I can count.  But I’ve survived.

It’s hard to describe the feelings I’ve been experiencing this past month.  Amazement – that I’m actually a doctor and I get to take care of patients.  Frustration – at my lack of knowledge.  Anger – at the unfairness of life.  Gratitude – that I have my health when so many others don’t.  Sadness – that I can’t save everyone and that I have to watch so much suffering and death.  Happiness – that I am blessed to do what I do.  Doubt – that I picked the right career.  Fear – that I don’t have what it takes to do this for a lifetime.  Exhaustion – beyond belief.

Some days I come home so excited to tell my husband about my day, the cool things I’ve seen, the procedures I’ve performed.  And other days I am silent, because how do I tell him I spent the last hour of my day listening to the last dying breaths of a patient my own age.  But everyday I carry the burden of my patients’ sufferings with me.  Even when I have a day off, I find myself constantly checking charts from home, making sure the right orders are in and that my patients are still alive.  I lay in bed at night worrying that I’ve forgotten something, or that something will be missed while I’m not there.

Some days I want so much to scream, to cry, to hit something, someone, anything.  I thought I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to become a doctor.  But I had no idea.  Not even an inkling of how hard it would be to do this job.  On so many levels.  I underestimated the physical and intellectual challenges that being a doctor would bring.  I had no idea the mental exhaustion it takes to work 15 hour days over and over and over again.

I was once asked by a physician during residency interviews if I believed in the concept of Informed Consent.  Of course, I replied.  Then he explained that he believed informed consent to be a myth.  Because no one can ever be truly informed.  So when we describe a procedure and the risks involved to a patient and they give informed consent, it’s a fallacy because they don’t have the medical knowledge required to truly understand the procedure and what they’re agreeing to.

I think in many ways he was right.  If I had truly known what being a doctor was going to be like, I wouldn’t have signed up for this.  And that’s the honest to goodness truth.

But I did sign up for.  I signed my life away, and it’s too last to take it back.  So for now I’m going to try to take a nap before my night shift tonight.  I’ll try not to lay awake thinking about my patients, even though I know I will anyway.  And I’ll probably have strange dreams about blood transfusions and horses in the ICU (yes, this is what I dream about nowadays).

1 month of Intern year down – 11 to go.

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About emilyehoward

My name is Emily, and I am a first year Internal Medicine Resident in Phoenix, Arizona. I live with my husband Nicholas and my daughter Anika. And I hope you enjoy my blog!
This entry was posted in Doctor, Health Care, Medicine, Osteopathy, Physician, Residency and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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