I ran into my good friend today as she was out for a jog and I biking home from work. We started medical school together in the same year (2009 for those counting), and she’s now a full-fledged doctor, or at least a full-fledged sleep-deprived intern. She mentioned that she had come across one of my blog posts, which is exciting in that it’s the first time I’ve bumped into someone in the real world who has read one of these posts. Thoughts from readers are always welcome.
As we chatted, I asked her how things were going. Her response was “pretty good”. I think one of the issues she was grappling with was the degree of autonomy we sacrifice when going into this profession. She is just about to start night float shift, which means 14-16 hours of working straight through the night for 2 weeks while sleeping during the day. It’s generally hard to look forward to that much of a slog.
Going in to medicine hampers spontaneity. And without flexibility to live one’s life, one becomes one’s work. This dynamic is both medicine’s blessing and curse: incredibly dedicated people often committing themselves at the expense of their own sanity.
One thing that could contribute to wellness throughout medical education and practice is the opportunity for built in breaks and variety. From my own experience, I’ve bounced between research in the lab (think late nights in shorts and sandals with music blasting) and clinics (think earlier than early mornings in a tie and coat). The two environments are near polar opposites, and the total flexibility of one has allowed me to appreciate and gain from the structure and rigidity of the other.