Somehow, I have survived the first two weeks of residency.
Starting last Monday, there were a couple final hours of orientation* showing us to our respective locations we’d be reporting to on Tuesday, and I’ve been working every day since until this weekend. I thought I had been doing ok on sleep, but then I found myself sleeping in until late Saturday afternoon. It felt good to put a dent into my eternal sleep debt while I could, since starting on Monday I again will work every day until Wednesday, July 16th. Only this time, starting on Thursday night I’ll be working from 4:30-5:30 PM until 6 AM (essentially the opposite of my current schedule). Night call is an excellent opportunity to learn and be exposed to a lot we may miss during the routine day shifts, but completely inverting one’s sleep schedule always takes its toll. Then again, if it were going to be easy, everybody would do it, right?
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (or NICU) has been a very… well, intense way to kick off a residency. A lot of the medicine that is focused on is hard to apply to other disciplines within pediatrics (or definitely psychiatry, for that matter) and I personally only spent about 10 hours in a NICU during medical school. That said, unfamiliarity is also growth potential, and I feel like I have learned a lot both about neonatology and staying organized with a variety of tasks (even if some/all are things I have little experience with).
The best part about slowly becoming more comfortable with it all is that I can talk to the parents of these extremely young babies about what we are doing and why (the babies, for what it’s worth, are far less talkative). The first couple of days I felt like I was just regurgitating numbers or words I’d written down to present on rounds, but with time I’ve been able to start translating those things into terms these anxious families can more easily process. It is really quite humbling and gratifying when I can visibly see a mother be more at ease after talking to them… it’s a gentle reminder that the position we are in, even at the very beginning and bottom of the large residency totem pole, carries a lot of respect and authority with it … certainly more than it did as a medical student, and I cannot help but have a goofy smile whenever I get to sign something now. It took four years for two letters, but those two letters give my signature a lot more power than it used to have. Feels good.
The fourth of July fireworks in Providence were delayed last night due to thunderstorms related to Hurricane Arthur. I can hear some of them going off outside my window. No matter how harsh work can be, moments like these always bring a smile to my face.
*The same Monday morning, I was also very surprised to have a piece of cake and a birthday card signed by all my co-interns waiting for me. For someone who knew essentially no one coming to Rhode Island, it was very heartwarming to have such a kind gesture from a group I had only so recently met. We are all in this together, however, and I look forward to paying back their kindnesses one day.