I knew residency was going to be hard. I had anticipated the long hours, weeks in a row without a two-day weekend (which, in an attempt to see the glass as half full, I have come to call vacations), and the mountain of new knowledge I would need to master. None of this came as a surprise and I was braced for them from the day I showed up for orientation. However, I’ve found that residency comes with a whole set of challenges I did not expect. If anyone had told me about them in med school, I guess I wasn’t really listening (or, more likely, was too preoccupied trying to figure out my patient’s acid/base situation by the time we rounded to take much notice). For each of us, these unexpected challenges in residency are likely to be a little different, stemming from our own strengths, weaknesses and pet peeves. Here are some of the difficulties I wasn’t expecting:
After coming home from a long day at the library studying for my cardiology exam, I get a phone call from my sister. “Hey,” she said. “Grandmother is in the hospital. Can you come home this weekend?” Great, I thought. Not this again.
I was barely beginning to cope with the loss of my dad over eight years ago, and barely staying afloat in medical school because of it. I had failed my first medical course, anatomy, during my first year and just spent a tough summer trying to remediate it, as my other friends went off traveling or spending time at home with their families. Now, my grandmother was a piece of my childhood that I was about to lose and I had no idea how to prepare for it.