People often tell me, “I don’t know how you do it. How do you handle it?”
It, of course, is RESIDENCY.
Residency and all that comes with it: long days, nights on call, high stress situations, occasional rude patients, a multi-year time commitment.
The truth is, a lot of the time I DONT handle it. Or at least not very well. The difference is, I have no choice. When you have to make it work, you find a way.
Unfortunately, that way for me is often wanting to scream, cry, yell, whimper, or run away. And sometimes I do more than want.
Like when you get paged to come see a patient in the ER that you’ve been in contact with for days and know there is nothing to be done for them. You get called just as your head hits the pillow with a sigh of relief. That is probably a wimper moment. Especially if it is 3 am.
Or when you get asked to do a procedure on a patient you don’t agree with. But the staff demands it. That is a yelling moment.
And being paged for a rectal exam as your third page in two minutes as a dental resident who never learned how to do rectal exams. That is a run away moment (or at least a wish-you-could run away moment).
Add in pages from sometimes rude nurses, demanding patients, and the stress of dangerous medical problems you may be asked to solve (luckily this doesn’t happen very often for me in my specialty) and it can be hard to “do it.”
But you willingly signed up for it. You “knew what you were getting yourself into.” Except I don’t think you can ever really know.
I’m not saying I don’t love my job. Most of the time (or sometimes some of the time). It can be difficult and challenging. Unfortunately, I don’t have any super powers that make it any easier for me than anyone else or any character traits to be admired that make me “handle it” better than others could. But when patients are involved, you have to find a way to get through it. And sometimes for me that means taking a minute for a good cry, scream, or tantrum (I’m wondering if I have learned adequate coping skills?). And then picking myself back up, gathering my composure, and starting over again with the next beep of the pager.