July 1, 2016 marks the first July 1st in 2 years that hasn’t represented some major change or new beginning in my life. Two years ago, I started my internal medicine intern year as a shiny newly minted doctor, eager and nervous as all hell, unsure of every little single thing and having to ask my seniors for help. One year ago, I began my dermatology training at what I can honestly say is my dream dermatology residency program. I remember feeling incredibly nervous as well, feeling like maybe I got in under the radar and hoping that I could keep up with my brilliant colleagues (read more about my path to derm here).
Today it feels almost a little anticlimactic transitioning from PGY-2 to PGY-3, since I finished work yesterday and am back at work again today, but it feels surprisingly good to not be the newbie for once. Finally, I will know the computer system, know the hospitals, know what to expect, and not be adapting at every turn, trying to absorb everything as quickly as possible to not make a fool out of myself (pressures I put on myself the years before!).
Intern year was physically and emotionally draining and exhausting in every way imaginable. Walking out of the hospital in June that year, I felt like I had accomplished something huge, something that rocked the very core of who I was as a person (in a good way AND a bad way), and that I was finally a real doctor. Today I feel … just really happy. For the first time in my life I feel very satisfied with my career, and all the questions I had, such as, “Should I really have gone into medicine? Shouldn’t I be loving all that I’m doing more, or shouldn’t I feel more passionate about this field” finally were answered. I’m training in a field that touches on so many other fields in medicine like rheumatology, internal medicine, immunology, etc., is truly intellectually interesting to me, is a great combination of clinical and procedural medicine, and best of all, I feel like I am actually making a difference in my patients’ lives that they care about, whether it’s a case of disfiguring acne or a blistering disorder so bad that the skin just sloughs off in sheets.
One of my colleagues this year said in a departmental talk that we as dermatologists like how we can make the diagnosis from across the room just looking at the patient, but we have to remember that the patient’s skin disorder is readily visible to everyone else outside the hospital world too.
People care a lot about their skin because that’s how they are perceived by the outside world, so I’m glad I can be a part of their treatment of their largest organ.
I felt inspired to write this post because July 1st will always be such a deeply symbolic day for me, as it is for hundreds of other doctors around the nation. I can just imagine all the fresh interns out there who may have been so nervous they couldn’t sleep last night, thinking how a difference of one day propels them into being someone’s “Doctor,” entrusted with their patients’ lives and the trust of their patients’ families. And how today, so many interns out there may feel overwhelmed, stressed, or lost, or maybe the opposite. I know I sure felt all of the above emotions, and then some. It is such a huge day for these new doctors, a day that will change their lives forever! If you’re one of these new interns, I am cheering you on and rooting for you. It’s going to be a hell of a year.