What to Expect When You Are Expecting…Change

By Richard A. Giovane

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It is Sunday night, one week exactly before I will graduate residency. This entire feeling of being “done” has mixed emotions. I am free to practice medicine how I want. Gone are the days of checking out patients to attendings or doing rounds with an entire medical team. But with this freedom comes fear. Although I do not have to check out any patients, the responsibility and critical thinking rests solely on my shoulders. I do not have the comfort of double-checking if my thought process is correct or if the dose of medication I am giving is “what has been done for years.”

Setting off into the unknown world of medicine is an exciting experience. Knowing that this entire experience is an “open-world” and I can tackle problems my way. However, with that knowledge comes more responsibility and self-doubt. I constantly ask myself:

“Am I ready?”

“Will I take care of my patients correctly?”

“Will I be a good doctor?”

“Will I succeed?”

I also feel sad because I have to say goodbye to some of the best people I have ever met. I can’t tell you what residency is like with some of the greatest people on this planet; it is something you have to experience. Gone are the days of hearing the latest hot topic from my friend Russ or bringing my friend Hailey her skinny latte before rounds, a tradition we kept all three years of residency. I will miss having good friends going through similar things as me that we can work through together. I will miss meeting new interns and guiding them through the hectic year of residency.

I think I am most scared of change from my routine. Not the mere transition of a resident to attending physician. It is bigger than that. It is the change of being someone who has been a student for 27 years to someone who is writing their own rules. I have been in school for 27 years and there was always that next goal. After 8thgrade you go to high school, then college, then medical school. In medical school, you chase each board exam as if it was a race, and then after board exams you chase what residency you want.  But what now? I ask myself. There is no next step or next hurdle. I passed all my board exams and now I am board certified for the next 10 years. Is it just clinic and hospital for the next 30-40 years? How will I stay sane? I have always promised myself I would never be someone who lives for the weekend, but the more I think about this situation, it seems inevitable I will be one of those people… But maybe I am over thinking it and will stay busy enough and set goals in other ways I haven’t thought of.

“Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. After long enough, you get so you depend on ’em. That’s ‘institutionalized.’”

-Ellis Boy “Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption

About the author: Richard Giovane is a board certified Family Medicine physician. He completed his residency training in Family Medicine at the University of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa [Roll Tide!]. He was born in Canada but has an Italian background, and yes, he does talk with his hands a lot and has difficulty grasping the concept of the volume of his voice! He enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, and has a strong passion for medical education. He is currently the Senior Editor for Step 1 Qmax and has served as an author for several First Aid books.


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