Hard work that I love……Family Medicine Resident

I am a family medicine resident, which is a doctor who has finished medical school and is now doing extra training in the area of family medicine. This is usually how I introduce myself to my patients, as most people have no idea what a resident is. It took 4 years of a bachelors of science degree and another 4 years of medical school to get here.

I can’t honestly say that I always wanted to be a doctor-I liked people, I liked science, and I liked being smart. So, I figured I would try to get into medical school but if I failed, I would be a high school science teacher. Well, I got in. Not that I didn’t have to work my butt off to survive the vicious competition of pre-meds or the overwhelming work of medical school. But it was worth it. The more I learned about medicine, the more I loved it.

Not to say that all aspects are great but there is a lot of flexibility in different fields of medicine, so one can really choose a career that suits goals and priorities in life. For example, I decided that having a social life and a family was as important as being a competent doctor. I decided to become a family doctor because of the flexibility of joining a group practice, or sub-specializing in sports medicine or low-risk maternity. In fact, once I am done residency, I may choose to do all the above, depending on where I am in my life. Of course, doing some work in primary pediatrics in Vietnam and tropical medicine in Ecuador is on the agenda as well. Cool, eh?

So, reading some of the other entries of the life of a resident spurred me into defending my choice. Yes, my life at times sucks. I have worked 90 hours, slept in my own bed only 4 days out of this week, and missed a total of 7 meals. I also haven’t done any dishes, laundry, or grocery shopping, and yes, i forgot my mother’s birthday. I was verbally abused by some people (attendings, patients, nurses, pharmacists) and was verbally abusive to others in moments of stress due to lack of sleep, overwhelming workload, and frustration. These are not my proud moments.

However, for example in this week on my pediatrics rotation, I helped over 30 newborns take their first breath by rescusitation, treated life-threatening infections in babies and children, counselled parents on nutrition for kids, taught moms how to breast feed and prevent dehydration in jaundiced babies, consoled a couple on a miscarriage, investigated child abuse in a boy with a skull fracture, and interacted with a team of hundreds of people in the hospital and community with the mutual goal of improving peoples’ health. The phrase “very rewarding” is not adequate. I absolutely love my job.

I think that one of the most appealling features of medicine is that you are your own boss. I mean, obviously, as a resident, I am a scut monkey, the cheap labor that runs the hospital 24/7. But when I am finished, I have real choices about what to do, and where to do it, and how I choose to practice medicine. In this volatile job market right now, this is very satisfying.

I am empathize with those who feel “stuck” in unfulfilling careers. If it gets to the point where you cannot get any enjoyment or sense of accomplishment, then I think it’s time to look somewhere else! Good luck!