July used to be about summer vacations–rich with outdoor activities and devoid of responsibly. It graduated into hours studying with no discernable signs it was July other than from the weather, but this past July was much different for me. After four years of undergrad, two years of post-bac, three years of work, and another four years of medical school, I pushed through the front doors of the hospital, this time in a long white coat. This past July, I became a doctor. Now, four months in, I wanted to share with you what the transition has been like thus far.
One of the biggest mental hurdles I’ve faced in the first few weeks was realizing that I was no longer a medical student. The pressures and concerns of being a student no longer applied but it was a hard frame of mind to break. Often as a student, you feel as though you are constantly under a microscope, needing to impress everyone with your work ethic and medical knowledge. You worry that your attending will pimp you on something you do not know and you never leave until dismissed, always asking “Is there anything else I can help with?” before ever actually exiting the building.
That sense of needing to prove yourself is no longer there. You are there to do a job and not being able to recall that obscure fact you just got pimped on during rounds, rolls off your back. Or it should. Admittedly, it was hard for me to shake that mindset especially since I (as many of us in medicine do) struggle with ‘imposter syndrome.’ A feeling of not belonging, that your Match results were, in fact, a sinister hiccup in the algorithm and you should never have matched in the first place.
Intern year is a limbo of no longer a student but truly not a real doctor. What changed from a few short months ago? You can no longer hide behind “Oh, I’m just the student” and instead need to step up to the plate. Thankfully, one of the reassuring components of intern year is that you are never alone. There are always senior residents, pharmacists, nurses, fellow interns, attendings, and even medical students who will know more than you and happily help. From forgetting the code to the bathroom to properly compressing the chest of a coding patient, you are never alone. While the responsibilities of the job are significantly more demanding, in many ways, that short white coat was far heavier.