Life After Intern Year

If any of y'all just so happened to be wondering if there was any kind of magical transformation or overnight revelation between the last day of intern year and the first day of PGY-2 year (post-graduate year 2), let me go on ahead and hit you with a newsflash.

There is no magical transformation. There is no overnight revelation.

You don't wake up on your first day as a second-year resident with all the knowledge and confidence you've always dreamed of. You wake up that first day feeling just as regular as you did when you went to sleep the night before on your last day as an intern. That's exactly what happened to me. It's actually kind of disappointing, but also totally expected. I mean, did I really expect to hop up out the bed, turn my second-year swag on, and feel a lot more confident and knowledgeable than I did as an intern? Yeah, that sounds kind of crazy to me too. But hey, it still felt good to wake up and realize that I was no longer an intern! That feeling of sweet joy quickly turned into bitter horror when I realized just how much of a responsibility I now had as a second-year resident and how I now could be potentially called in as backup on my designated call days to cover any resident's shift in the program as opposed to only intern shifts.

Scared Horror GIF

But then it went right back to sweet joy as I started my first rotation of PGY-2: Pediatric Infectious Diseases. This elective has been a wonderful one to start on because while the work I have to do on the elective keeps me pretty busy (it's known to be one of the busiest electives here), the 9-5ish schedule that I'm enjoying has been glorious. I've been able to get a ton of good sleep and I've also been able to enjoy some well-deserved “golden weekends” (“golden weekend” = regular two-day weekend 😂) these past few weeks as well. Yeah I know, it's wild that a standard 9-5 schedule is cake compared to my regular resident schedule isn't it? Residency will have you brainwashed into thinking that a 9-5 day is a break from your regular workload and that the normal two-day weekend that the vast majority of America looks forward to every week is something to aspire to. Hence the term “golden weekend” lol. Residency is wild y'all.

The amount of useful and practical knowledge I've accrued on this rotation is incredible. Through patient consults, chart reviews, test prep questions, and group discussions with our attending physicians and team pharmacist, I've gotten a better handle on how to effectively use antibiotics as well as how susceptible certain infectious organisms are to certain treatments. In addition, I've been given the opportunity to gain firsthand experience on how to evaluate and manage patients afflicted with COVID and/or MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children), and I've participated in the care of patients who had astonishing pathologies that I had either never heard of or had never seen in real life before. I've also been able to fortify my skills in assessing and managing patients with common conditions that I'm more familiar with, which has in turn increased my confidence level.

One of the most important things that I've been able to appreciate on this rotation so far is the fact that I've been able to gain an understanding of how infectious disease doctors think through disease processes using the symptoms and signs provided by the patient, and how they ultimately decide on the therapy needed to effectively treat the patient. It's such a remarkable process and it really shows the high levels of intelligence that these physicians operate on. It's also inspiring and has motivated me to get to that level of knowledge and experience. 

Along with working alongside my co-resident on this rotation, I've been able to work with a couple of fourth-year medical students, which has been quite refreshing to say the least. I worked with a couple of fourth-year med students on my last rotation as well and I must say, having medical students to work with and help guide is pretty invigorating. I was pretty bummed when students had been forced to halt their clinical rotations due to the onset of the pandemic, but things have been better ever since they were given the green light to come back to the hospital. Not only are they incredibly helpful with managing the workload of the service, but I also enjoy being able to share some of my medical knowledge with them whenever the opportunity arises, to talk with them about the residency application process, and to tell them what they have to look forward to as they complete their last year of medical school.  As for the third-year medical students, I haven't been able to work one-on-one with any of them in a while, but I'll be looking forward to the day that I'll be able to work with them again!

One other thing that I've been able to immediately appreciate as a second-year resident is how resourceful I am to the new interns in our program. Because I'm on an elective and a consulting service, I've had the opportunity to bounce around and meet several of the interns working in the hospital and in our continuity clinic. I've also had the free time to help orient them to the hospital, to assist with troubleshooting issues that they've had while using our electronic medical record system, and to share some of my medical knowledge with them along with practical resident tips to help make their lives a bit easier. As I was transitioning to second-year, I had been told numerous times that I knew more than I think I did and that I would truly see the growth I've undergone during my intern year when I start working with the new intern class.

Well, they were right.

As I effortlessly answer questions posed to me from the new interns and the medical students, I'm continuously blown away at how much I actually seem to have retained from intern year. Things that have become second-nature to me over time are entirely new concepts to them. Habits that I have acquired to provide effective and efficient patient care are things that they have asked to learn more about. It has been such a gratifying and humbling experience to serve as a resource to them. Of course, there are certainly questions that I've been posed that I do not have the answer to but even in those circumstances, I've usually been able to show them where they would be more likely to find the answers they're looking for. I anticipate that I'll continue to enjoy helping them orient to their new lives as resident physicians and I'm looking forward to watching them flourish as I continue to evolve into the physician-leader that I'm working to become.

I have a bit more to say, but I think I'll save it for another day. I've already typed out quite a bit in this post and it's about time to move on to my next activity for the day. Y'all already know that I can get carried away in my posts if I don't check myself lol.

I sincerely hope that you all continue to stay strong, stay healthy on a physical, mental & spiritual level, and stay motivated to try and make your respective communities a better place to live in! The world sucks right now, but I choose to believe that we will get through all of this madness, even if the future looks bleak at the moment! It's easy to wallow in despair and to slip into a depressed state about everything, but I assure you that staying in that state for an extended period of time will do NOTHING to positively impact your life or the lives of those around you.

Don't get me wrong, definitely take some time to decompress and vent when you need to. Lord knows I need to at times, more often than not these days. Nothing we are going through is normal, and it is important to remember that. We are living in very uncertain and scary times with a disaster of an administration in office in the midst of a dangerous pandemic and a civil rights movement inspired by the deadly consequences of this country's history of systemic racism and police brutality. And that depiction is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing the current state of the country. So of course there are times you will feel burnt out. All I'm saying is try not to let it negatively impair your well-being or let it spiral you into an abyss of depression. There are helpful resources out there if you need them. Hit me up if you're having trouble finding any.

And please, please, PLEASE, REGISTER TO VOTE!!! Help others register to vote by sharing registration links with them. If you need a link to send others, here's one below that you can use. And then ACTUALLY VOTE when the time comes to do so in October and November!! We all know that we need some serious change in this country!! So let's all do our part in making that change happen!!

“It is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.” – President Barack Obama

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I FINALLY watched Hamilton for the first time on July 4th. It was just as epic as everyone had been saying for years!!

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