On Being A Beginner Again…

After 8 years total of school + 1 of research, I am well versed in the best highlighting techniques, the best pens to write with, how to cram 40 lectures into you brain, how to check off check boxes really well, how to take 8 hour tests, and how to manage constant, low level anxiety fairly well. Unfortunately, the cruel twist of fate here is that just slapping on two more initials behind my name (“M.D.”), only gives me enough knowledge and power to actually kill someone [accidentally, obviously.]

Being a beginner is one of my most hated things. I hate not being proficient and feeling like I am slowing down efficiency. Books can only teach you so much; experience is where the meat and potatoes of graduate medical education lies. Unlike in school, I can’t out-read my beginner-ism (my fall-back thus far).

The hardest thing for me, being novice at something, is to learn how to balance efficient mastery with purposeful understanding of the skill or concept. I pride myself on being able to learn things quickly, but sometimes I let my yearning for efficiency undermine taking my time . In fact, when I try to learn something quickly and can’t pick it up, my frustration leads to anxiety and that anxiety slows me down even more. Its like I develop a brain block or something.

I’m going to be a beginner at a lot of things come July so I need to get used to it. Guess I need to get an Erica Sara “Say It, Do It” bracelet that says “take your time.” Slow down. Learn the skill/concept correctly. Then be efficient.

Easy as 1, 2, 3. Right?

TELL ME: HOW DID YOU HANDLE BEING A BEGINNER WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED YOUR JOB?

Until next time…

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10 thoughts on “On Being A Beginner Again…

  1. I felt like a moron! So many teacher took me under their wings to show me the ropes. I look back at my first year and I can’t believe how ill equipped I was. You’ll get it, look for the teachers, the people who live what they do and aren’t afraid to share it.

  2. I am in the same boat. just started my first job out of veterinary school and I am constantly stressed. experience is key, and I feel like I won’t be able to relax until I have a year or more under my belt. however would desperately like to enjoy life in the mean time but not sure how to do so.

  3. I’ve worked in a few different areas of my company and every time I switch jobs I absolute HATE going from being the guru to the know-nothing idiot. It is so frustrating, so I feel your pain!

    I try to focus on the future. I know that 3 months into the job I’ll be feeling confident and have a lot of knowledge I didn’t start with. That’s not that long, right? It’ll be over before you know it and you’ll be good at stuff! Also, I remind myself that rushing leads to mistakes. When you’re in the medical field that’s even more important to remember!

    Hope that helps!

  4. The funny thing about law school is, you don’t actually learn almost anything relevant to being a law firm lawyer. So last summer I was constantly having to ask my officemate, first years, and my assistant questions about basic things (SO ridiculous that I had an assistant when I knew nothing). I’m kind of petrified about starting real work this fall, but at least lawyers know first-year associates are basically clueless.

  5. I’ve been in the technology industry for almost 21 years and have probably been considered “unqualified” for most of the jobs I’ve done. I was the girl in grad school who was afraid to ask questions because everyone would see how little I knew. But somehow being forced to change roles so many times and frequently enter new fields turned into a strength, and I found my confidence. Now I am viewed as a valuable executive with experience in a variety of things who can be put into any new situation and succeed. Turn the fear into excitement around the scary but challenging new role/opportunity and view it as an adventure – you will be amazed at how far you will go!

  6. ahh I can so relate to this! It’s so weird being a beginner again! But, I’ve made it a point to tell myself that every day is a learning experience, and mistakes are to be expected. As long as you’re working hard and trying your best, things will come. Cut yourself a little slack and take some pressure off, and it seems a lot more manageable. I think I’ve been doing better with that mindset! I wish you were at my hospital, that would be so fun 🙂

  7. I can definitely relate! I am one of those people who always likes to look like she knows what she’s doing and never stops to ask for directions when she’s traveling. But I think it’s true that you’ll learn more (and more quickly) if you ask for help the first few times you need to do something new. Usually people are flattered, not annoyed, that you want their advice. Also, if you ask for help, you can spend less time worrying about whether you’re doing something right and more time enjoying your job!

  8. I’m sure the first year as a resident is much like the first year as a nurse…such a big learning curve and such a big difference from being a student. You’re expected to know so much and hit the ground running…and you can’t just take your time and work through because some things need to be done NOW. The key is that people realize you don’t know everything, especially in the beginning. I like getting our new interns because they’re so cute and shiny and new. haha. And I can tell them what to do. 🙂 Well…only a little bit. Nurses are your friends and I don’t mind when a resident asks, “What do you usually do?”

    But basically…I cried a lot when I first became a nurse and got really overwhelmed. See also: I had the WORST job ever. But anyway. The nurses were all really supportive because they’ve all been there before. People won’t purposefully let you hurt anyone. It was a blow to my ego to go from being the top of my class to feeling like I was drowning…but it does get easier.

    Ramble ramble ramble. I think ob/gyn people are nicer than surgeons, so you have that going for you too. 🙂

  9. This post obviously resonates with me because I’m in the exact same situation. I totally try to be really efficient sometimes, which leads to cutting corners. I definitely will need to remind myself to slow down and be thorough, especially at the beginning so that I establish a strong base. I’m not going to lie though, I will probably throw up after I catch my first baby from being so terrified 🙂

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