Medical Training Doesn’t Get Easier. You Just Get Stronger

I don’t think I’m ready for my second year of residency. As second years we have to cover the PCU (progressive care unit),  a step down unit in between the general medicine floors and the medical ICU (intensive care unit). We have to cover all of the rapid responses, situations in which patients are unstable and look like they are in impending doom, as well as codes for the entire hospital, situations when the patient is literally dead already and we have to work to bring them back. On top of that, our general responsibilities on the medicine floor services go from doing most of the grunt work to leading the decision making and overseeing and teaching our intern and medical students. None of this was in the medical school brochures. But you know what, neither was everything I’ve learned intern year of residency. Or in my third or fourth year of medical school during clinical rotations.

As I’ve progressed through my medical training I’ve found that the written curriculum is just as vast as the hidden curriculum. The learning curve is steep and it’s terrifying. I still encounter situations on the day to day basis that I have never dealt with before. And you know what? I’m still standing and so are my patients.

So to the recent medical school graduates waiting to start residency on July 1st: trust your instincts. It’s going to be difficult and there is nothing you can do to prepare for it. Read up if you want but don’t go nuts preparing for the unknown of residency. Have faith that, at times, you will feel inadequate, anxious, terrified, and not quite ready. Take solace that you are not alone in experiencing those emotions. It is normal and you will be okay.

Because you’re never fully ready for the challenges that lie ahead. You just have to be ready enough.

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  1. Pingback: What I Keep In My White Coat (mostly snacks and an iPhone charger) | Kitty Katz, MD

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