I am scared.
Next week I'm going to be starting my first Real Doctor job. After nine blissful years of getting to look over my shoulder, I am going to be on my own, trusted to make my own decisions.
I probably shouldn't be scared. First of all, I did have some attending privileges as a fellow, so this isn't entirely new for me. In fact, much of the time during fellowship, the attending presence kind of annoyed me. I feel ready to make my own decisions.
Second of all, it's not like I'm being released into the OR with a scalpel. My job as a rehab consultant is not the kind where I'm likely to be making any life or death decisions. Harming a patient in any serious way would be challenging, even if I were totally incompetent (which I don't think I am).
Third of all, I won't be in private practice by myself. There will be tons of other senior physicians around that I can ask for advice if need be.
Still, I'm scared. For all the same reasons I was scared on my first day of high school:
What if nobody likes me?
What if I'm not any good at it?
What if I hate it?
What if I'm overwhelmed with work?
What if they steal my lunch money? (Unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility.)
On my last day of fellowship, they threw a pizza party for me, gave me a card that everyone signed, along with a gift card. I felt so loved. I started to wonder why I'm striking out on my own when I could stay a fellow for another year if I wanted. I know I had really good reasons: (lack of) money, the lack of a future in my fellowship (hiring freeze), a chance for a secure permanent position elsewhere. But I can't help but doubt myself. And be scared.