I am now several months into intern year. The first few weeks... months... of intern year almost seemed like a daze. Wake up. Work. Eat, sometimes. Sleep, maybe. Rinse and repeat. It was only a few short months ago, which almost seems like a lifetime ago, that I was looking back at the trek through med school and wondering what loomed ahead in intern year.
Several weeks after that, I was sitting in an orientation for newly minted residents, listening through a whirlwind of talks about figuring out the EMR system, deciphering HR benefits, wellness talk by the program director, who predicted our intern year trajectory would go thusly: "first 2 months being scared s#@*less, next 2 months starting to feel little more comfortable, and the next 2 months, which puts us squarely in the middle of the long dark nights of winter, being depressed, the gloom of which will start to lift off with more daylight hours".
The beginning of intern year felt so jarring, to one day suddenly have people refer to me as "Dr. Lastname" instead of "Firstname" or "yo medstudent". Not exactly an unexpected outcome, I got plenty advance notice that was coming after 4 years of medical school. But I was so used to being either ignored by nurses or being treated as a nuisance, that when they suddenly started asking or paging me about whether to give insulin to this patient or Ativan to that patient, yeah, my thoughts at the time are illustrated above.
I remember agonizing endlessly over the smallest of decisions in the beginning. "Doctor, this patient is asking for Tylenol". "Let me call you back in 10 minutes after I do a thorough chart review to make sure I don't harm this patient with Tylenol with some contraindication that I haven't thought of as yet". I distinctly recall the jubilant moment of the first day of intern year when my co-intern and I high-fived each other after our biggest accomplishment for the day, figuring out where the restrooms were!
As months rolled on, just by the virtue of doing the same thing over and over, I started to feel more comfortable. Though I have soooo much more to learn and improve upon, reduction of that initial cognitive burden (figuring out the EMR, where the restrooms are etc.) has helped with efficiency. Some things have started to become second nature, with enough jolts to snap me out if I become to reliant on heuristic thinking.
There was something to what our program director said in the beginning of the year. We mostly followed his predicted trajectory, cluelessness --> tenuous comfort --> gloom. Which now brings me to the deep dark cold months of winter, which coincides beautifully with the peak of influenza season, everyone getting sick, chaos of finding coverage, and on a personal front, uncertainties of kindergarten/pre-K lotteries. Perhaps his predicted trajectory will continue, and when things settle down, and there are more daylight hours, gloom will lift?