Learning Curve

There’s so much I wanted to write about, like my experience during orientation, my first day of residency, Lyra’s 3rd month “birthday,” my first overnight on-call shift as a resident physician, my first paracentesis, and my struggles finding my way around the hospital system. However, it’s been 4 weeks since I started orientation and 2 weeks since I starting seeing patients, and I’ve been so busy that I hardly have the time now to write about everything I want to write about. So finally today, after 16 hours of overnight shift in the hospital, the max I am allowed as an intern, I finally got some time to sit down and review the last few weeks.

View from the Medical Center
View from the Medical Center

I understand now when they say that residency is a huge learning curve from med school. We now have more responsibilities than we ever had in med school, and we will have even more once we become an upper level resident and then an attending after finishing residency. I remember the first day on the job two weeks ago when I was assigned my new patients to see on the floor, six of them total. It frightened me to realize that whatever notes I wrote on a patient now truly “counted” and that whatever medication I prescribed, the patient actually gets it. There’s no upper level resident or attending that needs to sign for me. I sign it, and that was a scary realization for me. Having power and responsibility is frightening, especially when people’s lives are involved.

View of Macon from the hospital.

There’s so much I need to learn now, and while I do have exams to study for, the main reason for me to study now is to figure out what’s going on with my patients and how to manage them better. I find that although I have an MD behind my name and I can order lab tests and medications now, the nurses who have worked at the hospital for years and years have so much more intuition about patient care because of their experience. I appreciate them a lot and know I can learn a lot from them by working with them.

High Street, downtown Macon, Georgia

For those of you who are interested in getting into the medical profession, it’s important to realize that learning never ends once you step into this field, and neither does the test taking. The 4.5 hour-long MCAT is certainly no match for the 7-8 hour USMLE Step 1 and 2 Exams, nor the 2-day-long USMLE Step 3. Testing doesn’t end with the steps, and lectures do not end at med school Basic Sciences. We have lectures and grand rounds during residency as well as In-Service Training Exams to pass. Even after residency, we must satisfy a certain number of Continuing Medical Education credits every 2 years to keep our license to practice in our states, and must take a board recertification exam every 8 years to continue to be a board-certified physician to practice in our specialty. To become a doctor is to become a committed life-long student. As long as you know what you are getting into, things won’t seem too bad, and this is certainly true for me right now in residency.