Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The Tipster: The Idiot's Guide to Residency
Going through residency more than once -- at least 1 and 1/3 of it all -- and having encountered a lot of roadblocks along the way, I think places me in a position somehow to give some invaluable tips on how to survive this kind of suffering that we doctors have brought upon ourselves. This thing called residency.
1. Know how to unwind, de-stress, detoxify. This is first on my list because, I believe that if we do not have any strategy to unload our stress, we would perform poorly in caring for others. The environment of the hospital stinks of stress. The type that is even palpable once you enter its premises. During residency, the stress keeps on coming in, in almost every form, and in forms you would not even expect it would take. Therefore, unwind when you can, de-stress, when you can, and detoxify when you can. You may take on a hobby, or treat yourself to a whole body massage, or simply go malling once in a while to allow yourself a different view, hold a movie marathon with friends and family, or talk with friends over coffee or over a bottle of beer. There are so many ways, and I am sure more than one of those would suit you.
2. Eye on the donut. You will find yourself questioning your motives for being in residency a lot of times. You will find yourself, questioning uuhhm, yourself, every week, every month, everyday, and yes, it could get worse, every single moment. The best thing to do is to never take your sight off from your goals. Why are you here? Why did you get into training in this hospital? Answers would probably go like, because you wanted to be a good clinician, you have always wanted to be a doctor since you were little, and you were tricked by the glow of the white uniform, or for world peace. Whatever brought you into residency -- your dreams, your loved ones, the fulfillment this profession brings, or the bleak promise of a bright future -- hold on to that. It may be the only one that is left but one with the strongest power to make you hold on and brave whatever residency hurls at you.
3. Be organized as much as possible. I am guilty of not doing this most of the time, but aren't we all a work in progress? Residency almost always equates to a lot of paperwork, aside from demanding duty hours (and consultants) that will all attempt to suck the life out of you so define your game plan. Get crazy with to-do lists. Organize, organize, and organize.
4. Maintain good work relations with the paramedical personnel. You all belong to one team with one goal to fulfill -- care for the patient. It is only important that work relations are not tarnished and respect for each individual in the workplace is maintained.
5. Don’t lose touch with God, family, friends, and loved ones. Yes, I am there. Residency can be busy. I take that back. Residency can be tough busy --- nnnoo..! Residency can be annoyingly busy, and it can be so good at that. No matter how altruistic your motives might be, your patience and your endurance (not only the physical aspect) will be put to the test once in a while. However one should try just as hard to strike a balance between one's professional and personal lives. Of course, you love being a doctor, but you have other aspects of your life to live. So go to church and attend mass for spiritual nourishment, take time to go out with friends from way back, take time to pause and stop on the dining table and talk with your family. In other words, let people in your life who matter feel that they do matter. Let love abide, and surely it will work wonders on you, and the positivity will reflect in your personality and in the way you go about your work as a physician.
Residency training does not run out of trying times. I had a considerable share of the pie of tears and doubts, sprinkled with garnishings of laughter, sighs of relief, smiles of fulfillment, and pats on the back. I realized though that through the harshness of it all, what keeps me going is that, for each day of residency that I try to enjoy and endure, for each day that passes when I try to motivate myself to achieve more than I did the day before, and for each day I try to sharpen my clinical skills, I am preparing myself for that unpredictable moment when I will encounter the patient whose life I will have the rare or even sole opportunity to save. There is some bit of heroic twist in there, I admit, but nevertheless, that is my silver lining. More than enough to carry me on through each day, smiling, and probably whistling. I am where I should be after all.
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