To End on a Positive Note

If you’ve come into contact with me at some point in the last 8 weeks, I’m sure you know how I’ve felt about my pediatric rotation. To be fair, it never really had a chance. Coming off the amazing high that was surgery, peds had a lot to live up to. Not going to lie – it didn’t even come close.

However, instead of telling you all of the things that I loathed about this rotation, I’m taking the advice of a friend and mentor of mine and I am focusing on the positive. So here is a list of the things that I enjoyed over the last 8 weeks:

  • Outpatient pediatrics allowed me enough free time to work out twice a day, including long hikes to watch incredible sunsets.
  • My incredible team of Residents allowed me to ditch out on an afternoon of doing intake H&P’s so that I could scrub into my patient’s surgery, which turned out to be a fantastic example of the beauty of continuity of care.
  • I became unrealistically attached to two of the most amazing ladies I know (someday we’ll write a memoire together and it’ll be hilarious, just wait).
  • Being mistaken for an Attending or Resident on multiple occasions – frustrating for my senior resident, but helpful for getting morning report from the nurses.
  • Pediatrics gives you a few morning’s off to do some online modules – I was lucky enough to spend those mornings jumping in on surgical cases.
  • I got offered an away rotation at one of the top surgical programs on the west coast for the month of July.
  • I was able to take a spontaneous 18 hr trip to Vegas to attempt to see The Chainsmokers.
  • I once explained to an outpatient Attending that I liked surgery because I find that I thrive in an environment where I am spoken to like a dog.  To his credit, about 10 minutes later I hear from across the clinic “Tessa, Come!”
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The amazing Team D. Just another example of how fantastic people can make anything tolerable.

On the other hand, here are a couple experiences that describe my feelings for most of pediatrics:

  • While doing an intake physical exam on a 5 year old child around 9:30 pm on a Saturday night the child begins to scream “I don’t want to do this! I just want to go to bed.” to which I yelled back “Me too!”
  • On my last day on outpatient pediatrics I was struck in the head with a dinosaur shaped reflex hammer by a 7 year old child – a perfect analogy for my experience of outpatient pediatrics.

The good news is that other than 2 weeks of intense study for the USMLE Step 2, I will be spending the next 5 months in or around the Operating Room.

So check back with me after that, maybe by that time I’ll agree with the unbelievable rude resident I met in Las Vegas who told me that going into surgery is the worst decision I could ever make (spoiler alert: I have definitely made worse decisions).

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Night out in Las Vegas with these amazing women that fill my life with so much joy and substance.

Speaking of the reactions that I get from people who find out that I have chosen to apply for surgery,  these are some of my favorites:

  • “I loved surgery, I just couldn’t do that life style.”
  • “You must really not like sleep.”
  • “Your life is going to suck” (my personal favorite right there)

I’ve realized something after hearing these statements and experiencing a non-surgical lifestyle these last two months.

We all value different things according to the amount of  self-worth, enjoyment and meaning we gain from each respective item. When coming to choosing careers within medicine, people prioritize different aspects of the careers in accordance with these values. Some people really value having lots of free time to do other things that they enjoy. Other people really enjoy connecting deeply with others and require a setting where that is encouraged.

I have realized that a large part of why surgery makes sense for me is that I really value having a career in which I can tangibly see the difference I am making. In addition to this, when I work, I like to work hard. I’m a single minded and intense individual that thrives in an environment that challenges me. Being in a place of  work that utilizes my intensity allows me to be more relaxed in the rest of my life. Something that I noticed over these last 8 weeks, is that when I don’t have a place to channel this energy, it starts to manifest itself in the rest of my life in the form of anxiety.

Do I look forward to the “surgery lifestyle”…. not necessarily!

I do find that like most morning people, if I haven’t accomplished at least a substantial amount of things by 7 AM the day is just over. However, I don’t crave getting few hours of sleep, missing meals, and not going to the gym as often as I would like.

But the things is, these last 8 weeks of Pediatrics my lifestyle has been pretty sweet. Like I mentioned above, I worked out a ton, I hung out with amazing people, I took spontaneous trips – and yet the majority of the time I was a miserable and anxious wreck. The value I place on myself and the meaning I get from life is not directly related to my extracurricular activities. The peace that I am able to maintain within requires a safe space to send all the turmoil, and unfortunately a 9-5 clinic job just doesn’t do it for me.

Moving forwards, when I hear people’s opinions about me going into surgery, instead of getting into midnight arguments, I’m going to try and just smile and be thankful that those people found their passions and are living them out.

Our inner fires burn at various temperatures and ignite for different things. The more comfortable you get with your own flame, the more you can appreciate the inner power and drive of those around you. Being aware of what motivates you changes the conversation from one about getting the most competitive specialties, to finding the most compatible ones.

Thank goodness we’re all unique and that medicine has a place for us all!

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Fantastic views from Angel’s Rest in the Columbia River Gorge

In other news, that’s the end of my 3rd year of Medical School! It’s been a whirlwind journey, and one that has facilitated more growth than most years of my life combined (no, not physical growth. I’ve been this tall since I was 16. I swear). Through it all, here I stand – a terrifying step nearer to the ledge of responsibility that is becoming an Intern.

Thank you all for your support along the way. I’m ready for 4th year now.

xx

-T

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