A million different people.

I’ll be finished internship soon.  The year will be marked by general (instead of provisional) registration which I’m told is something that gives you freedom.  It’s been a hard year.  I told a family their mother had gone.  For the first time.  And then I did it again and again.  I watched really young people die and felt helpless.  I saved a guys life in my 23rd hour of being awake (probably the only life saved directly by me this year 😉 ).  I cried a lot.  I felt stupid and inferior even more than I cried.  I learned how to numb a hand.  Irrigate a bladder.  Three different kinds of stitches.  I did a million blood gases.  I made dumb mistakes.  I got someone (who deserved it) put in jail.  I made new friends.  Even got good feedback a few times.  Worked countless hours of overtime.  Realised I needed a cleaner and that eating out most of the time was probably okay.  Lost a few kilos from stress then gained them back again when I made a further realisation that eating chocolate every day is perfectly okay when you’re running up 5 stories every day inumerable times.  I can probably put a cannula in with my eyes shut.  I can write up bags of electrolytes and plenty of drugs without having to look up the dosages.

But I don’t feel so much like a doctor yet.  Maybe in brief moments.  Mostly I feel like I can do stuff.  And organise stuff and do a lot of paperwork.  Lately I’ve been realising that I want to be better.  I want to start thinking, educating myself and my patients.  Working out how to get them better again.  I’ve been thinking about doing physician training again even though it feels like I’m paralysed just contemplating it.  Am I that person?

For those who don’t know, physician training is one of the most academic, detail oriented, high pressure areas of medicine.  I’m a big picture person.  Who procrastinates.  And while I’ve never failed an exam in medicine so far, 40% of the people who sit that exam fail it.  In spite of that, I want to be better.  I want to know more.  I want to have the answers for my patients.  I want to fix them.  And if I can’t, I want to treat them.  And if I can’t, I want to be there with them and as much as I can, get them and their families to the end well.

Am I that person?  There are clever, clear minded people who are constantly told they are physician material by consultants and those around them.  No one has ever said that to me. I suppose if I tried, at least there’d be no one to let down.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like this before.  Like I really really want something, but almost convinced I can’t do it.  I wonder where the self-belief comes from.

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2 comments

  1. My dear, you do sound like a physician 🙂 and I mean that in a very good way! Wanting to learn and to explain how it is to your patients is a very admirable thing. I’m sure that will help you be great in any career in medicine, and physicianhood especially! Whatever path you choose, I can assure you will feel more and more like a doctor the more experience you get. I think feeling like a doctor comes when you have seen enough that you know how to prognosticate, and explain even really terrible things in a way your patients will understand and trust. This makes even the hardest things that more bearable for them. I also really think the only way to get there unfortunately is going through a time of feeling a bit stupid, and inferior, and sad, and helpless. Hope that’s not too patronising, but I think that those really hard times have helped me understand what it is to go through being really sick, or having a loved one who is.

  2. Look at your last post, in which you felt like you knew nothing then and know nothing now. And look at how far you have come in that time – how much you have achieved. Why on earth do you think you can’t “do it”? I think you should take a break somehow, and then revisit that mindspace.

    I know a man who was told as early as high school that he was destined to be a failure. He skipped school and sat in the library reading, because he was failing at most subjects and couldn’t bare to be in class. Now he is the greatest doctor I know. Not only was he not told that he was bright enough to do something, he was told the opposite. And he did it, and more.

    I was always told I could do anything. I wowed everyone with my marks, with my ability to score highly without doing any work. I gave up my spot in med school the day before university started and did law instead. 10 years down the track and I am unsatisifed, unchallenged and I have no idea what I want to be doing. I have never really worked hard for anything in my life, because I haven’t found anything I wanted to work hard at.

    You have the gift of knowing what you want, the ability to get to where you want to go by SLOGGING… that is a skill that I have never tested. And I can’t help but thinking that if things had been different, and I had tested it – I might be in a better place today, or at least on the right path.

    Be grateful that you know what you really want, because I truly believe that will be enough to get you there.

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