What It’s Like Being A Resident

A lot of people ask me “how is residency” or “what do you do as a resident? Are you a doctor? Are you in school?”

First question: yes, I am a doctor or so says this diploma. Not an "attending" which is what you might think of when you think of "doctor."

Yes, I am a doctor or so says this diploma. Not an “attending” which is what you might think of when you think of doctors in practice. 

Let me tell you what it’s like to be a resident. At least, from my perspective. And we know no two of those are the same. But, anyways….

Being a resident is both special and suffocating.

Special in the fact that, I think, it’s a very seminal point in your life where you learn your potential craft, what you’re truly passionate about, and start to get to do what you worked 8+ years to do.

Special in the fact that, if you’re lucky, you’re thrust into a family of people that, if you like them, become people you look forward to seeing, miss on vacation, and don’t mind spending 80+ hours a week with. People that even when the shit hits the fan at 3 am and everyone is hemorrhaging, delivering, needing their ER consult, or just all decided to roll into triage at once, you can still laugh about it the next morning over egg wraps and hot sauce (the hot sauce is truly crucial in this scenario).

My NYU family, who I see more than my real family.

My NYU family, who I see more than my real family.

Residency is also suffocating. When you work 60-80 hours a week, it can start to feel like you live from one extended nap to the next and really never venture all the far from work or your work brain.

[Side note: I think that’s why I like exercise classes so much – it helps me to get out of my work world and into, well, the other world? real world? boy meets world?]

But, it’s very special to get to do what you wanted to do in life even if it is slightly suffocating for a four year period.

Residency is also terrifying.

As an intern (your first year), everything is terrifying – from being terrified that you’re going to hurt a patient, to attendings and senior residents you’re afraid to screw up in front of (which you always do), to figuring how to do a C-section, to figuring out just how to stay afloat and do anything, something RIGHT. I think I spent the first 6 months of my intern year with a heart rate above 100 bpm and a cortisol level higher than someone on “Naked and Afraid.”

Residency then becomes even more terrifying as you realize that you really had little responsibility as an intern and, as you progress, you get more responsibility. And, then you’re worried you don’t study or read enough, know enough, do enough….that you sleep too much or exercise too much….and that this all this responsibility is going to one day fall on you and you’re going to be one of “those doctors” that doesn’t know what they are doing. And, that thought is truly terrifying.

However, there are some days – brief, shining moments in time – where you do realize that maybe, just maybe you do know something….even with that 7 hours of sleep you got and that 6 mile run you went on instead of reading. You can explain an induction of labor to your friend. You know a thing or two about pre-eclampsia and birth control. You can practically do an (uncomplicated, primary) C-section in your sleep.

And, then you think that you may make it out of the 4 year vortex of residency ok.

On to the next extended nap and then back into the vortex…

Until next time…



4 thoughts on “What It’s Like Being A Resident

  1. As a nurse, we get a little scared come July/August because the new interns show up and it’s scary how much they don’t know…but I bet they’re just as nervous as we are! (God bless those interns up get their first rotation on the burn unit – seriously not the best place for a first day!) It’s amazing to see the difference between a first year and a second year – you guys learn so much and have to learn so much of it while actually caring for real people! It’s a hard job, no doubt.

  2. Stumbled upon your blog today and I’ve only read a few of your posts, but as an MS2 in Albany, fellow fitness enthusiast (just joined the Flock earlier this year!), AND another Meg(han), I look forward to seeing what the next years of training (medical and otherwise haha) have in store for you and me! 😀

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