Reflections on my Life as a Resident
I sit here on a Friday night with a Marvel movie running in the background, struggling to pen down in limited words what life as an ER resident has been like…. I truly am overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.
We all remember that feeling of walking to your first meeting with your fellow residents and your Program Director, the nerves of not knowing what to expect and the excitement of starting this phase of your career is something words cannot describe. But with my first step in, I knew that I was blessed! My batch consisted of a mix of cultures and personalities that so beautifully blended together, though each stood out with their own flavor. I knew these were 9 people who would be my backbone for the years to come.
All our seniors welcomed us with open arms and were so willing to impart their knowledge with us, to give us advice and to share their experiences that I knew we were in safe hands. Our Program Director spoke with earned wisdom, a handful of sarcasm and a pinch of calming, sometimes confusing humor. He made us feel important, gave us hope and assured us that he had our best interests at heart. We knew he had our back. With complete comfort and confidence, I was set to start off my journey… I truly could not have anticipated what was in store.
Assigned by the mentorship program, I was paired with a mentor that was a perfect fit for me. On day one she sat with me trying to understand my expectations, my aims and my struggles and made plans with me on how to achieve my goals. She has this very effective, albeit slightly frustrating method of never answering a question directly, but rather counter questioning, forcing me to search for the answers. Four years down the line I have to admit, I have learnt the most because of this, and funnily enough, find myself doing the same thing to my mentees now.
Of course, there are the experiences of encountering the very first case that made me sweat, or the first time I had to experience telling a family that their loved one did not make it, or even the first time I confidently gave a wrong order and the nursing staff looked at me with utter disappointment.
All of those emotion filled moments, some heart breaking and some heartwarming, those “wanting the ground to swallow you” moments, or those moments of intense self-doubt, or even the times you felt “I’ve got this!”. I’m sure you all have experienced them. That, along with exam stress, being involved in audits, researches and conferences, managing your time between shifts, family and your own sleep cycle, making incredible memories with your team, and with each shift, and each rotation that passes, when you reflect – you realize how much you’ve evolved, and matured.
I could not complete this reflection without mentioning the probably once in a lifetime experience of dealing with a full-blown global pandemic during our residency years! I feel so fortunate for the learning experience but unfortunate that our senior residency years were overtaken by Covid-19. What a nerve wrecking, exhausting, uncertain time it has been. However, it is one filled with opportunities to shine, and take on responsibility.
Come to think of it, Emergency Medicine is much like The Avengers. I kind of see us as Spiderman. Young, enthusiastic, slightly nervous but always game and trying our best to grasp the wonderful qualities of our seniors.
Whether it be the practicality of Captain America, the boldness of Thor, or the ability to stay calm and witty during a tough code, like Iron Man. Learning to pay attention to the little things like Ant Man, leading with confidence like the Black Panther or understanding that some things just need to be tackled like the Hulk. We are all at some level trying to absorb and reflect these qualities to create our own personalized real life superhero.
A superhero that walks in to each shift with a smile, ready to take on the unpredictable. A hero ready to lead but willing to take a step back when needed. A hero that proudly realizes that they are nothing without their team. A hero that is always striving to be their best, and acknowledges that each day they are still learning and growing and trying to reach their aim of being an ideal hero.
And that in itself is one MARVELous journey.