By Edgar Gerodias, MD
Dear Incoming Resident,
I know that you are probably still elated from the news that finally, after 4-5 years of pre-med, four years in medical school, one year of post graduate internship, you finally have your hands on the much-coveted license, your ticket to practicing medicine.
I know that you will have been given guidance and some options as to what you can choose to do next. For you, who have chosen to take the path of residency, this is going to be an interesting, and sometimes challenging, part ¬of your medical journey. I hope you will take time to consider these few points that I would like to share with you with regards to residency. My thoughts are taken from recent, past, experiences.
1. Residency is not a regular job.
Unlike other professions, wherein once you get your qualification, you apply for a job, you get paid for it and that’s it! No, residency is a TRAINING PROGRAM. Meaning, you are back to being a student. With that in mind, your attitude towards your role as a resident needs to be adjusted accordingly.
You will be there to learn.
You will be there to become equipped in whatever field of specialty you have chosen. You will be there to absorb everything necessary for you to build a good foundation, so that when you go into practice, you will know what you are doing. You will be confident in saying, “I’ve got this! I’ve been trained for this.”
Just like any other teaching institution, your consultants/teachers will have different methods of teaching. While it is the responsibility of a core group of training consultants to provide a structured teaching program for you, you will also learn from other consultants working in the hospital. However, unlike the classroom, we are now dealing with live human beings, who deserve nothing but the most accurate and professional management, since a single mistake can have a detrimental effect on the patient’s condition.
Which brings me to my second point.
2. Your attitude will determine your response.
There may be times when you will feel a lot of negative feelings coming from those around you, and you may feel as though you are not being treated in the way that you would expect. You need to be able to accept this as part of the learning experience. Your perspective should be;
“this certainly doesn’t feel good at all, but I will accept it, and learn what I can from the experience”.
Brush off the ‘below the belt’ comments, it happens. But just like life in general, you simply can’t allow those things to get you down, these momentary setbacks do not really matter in the long run.
Remember the first point. You are there to learn. There is no room for pride to get in the way. If you have a ‘self-sufficient’ and ‘overly confident’ attitude, and have a ‘know it all’ type of attitude, then a residency program may not be for you. Residency is a training ground for doctors who are there to learn, to build on their experiences and to better themselves. Therefore, you need to have the heart of someone that accepts their limitations – and have the humility to submit to authority.
3. Express your emotions.
The inability to express emotions is possibly one of the reasons why depression, and even suicide, is becoming a trend in some medical schools and residency programs, although, thankfully, this is not that common in the Philippines. The thing is, there will be bad days during your residency, and you need to expect that. However, you will have co-residents who will become your friends, people who are possibly sharing the same experiences. You will also have friends outside the hospital, and of course you have family.
Do not be afraid to express your emotions to them, or to show your vulnerability. It is even alright to cry. It is alright to be angry. It is alright to be frustrated, just remember to let it out. The act of expressing your feelings this way is an effective way of releasing all the tension that has been building up in your life.
There will be times that you have been reprimanded by a consultant, be it just or unjust criticism. Share it with your co-residents, that way, you all realize that it’s not just you, it is probably happening to every resident, at some time or another. As you share a specific incident, others can learn from you and maybe avoid repeating the same mistake.
And lastly, the most important of all.
4. Do not set aside your spiritual life while on residency.
I speak of this out of experience. Residency means residency, you are literally in the hospital 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. If you’re lucky, at times you may have a weekend off. This goes on for 3-5 years straight. On top of that, your day is filled with so many things that you have to try and accomplish, meaning you are going to be tired AND stressed at times. Being aware of this beforehand, will help you deal with the reality.
As a Christian, I urge you not to forget God, the Author of Life, the one who has enabled you to get you to where you are today.Through your pre-med days, medical school, internship and your last hurdle, the board exams. I believe that you have probably never prayed to God as passionately as you did when you were preparing for the ‘boards’. Now that your prayer has been answered, and you start residency, God can be set aside as you get busy and start doing things on your own, in your own strength.
However, we must not forget that our lives revolve around His grace and His will. Medicine is a profession which makes us realize that while our knowledge is increasing, God still has the final say in all of our lives.
I therefore encourage you, incoming resident, to put God first in your residency life.
Start each day with a prayer, reading God’s Word and devotionals. During the day, call unto Him for strength and wisdom. When the day ends, thank Him for sustaining you.
In conclusion, I pray that you will make the most of your chosen training program. Be the best that God has intended you to be. Not for yourself, but most importantly, for the benefit of the patients you take care of – and ultimately for God’s greater honor and glory.
Edgar M. Gerodias MD
Internal Medicine Chief Resident,
When I found Doctor Edgar’s writing, I told myself that I definitely need to share it with you! Thank you doc for letting me put it on the blog to reach not only our new physicians, but of the future MDs. 🙂
Congratulations to our newly #licensedtoheal doctors who passed the recent PLE!
I hope this content has helped you!
God bless you on the path you will be taking doc!
As always, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Feel free to keep requesting specific content from me. I am here to help you guys! ♡
I am extremely proud to Dr. MJ, Dr. Craig, Dr. Jan, Dr. Neal, Dr. JJ, and Dr. Jenine. I count myself lucky for having known all of you. Thank you for being such an exceptional role models. You guys are truly a great inspiration for me. 💖
There is one person who once told me that I should not be only preparing to ace an upcoming exam, but to also think and aim for the long term, The Boards. The Future Patients.
“It will be hard, but never lose sight of the future no matter how toxic the requirement, the exam, the day has been. “
This insight has helped me gain a new perspective on the game plan that I have, on what I am doing and should be doing right now. Sharing these words to you, thinking it may help reassess yours too. 🙂
Alright enough of my after PLE (Physician Licensure Exam) realizations.
Do share this content, and let’s repeat this cycle of inspiring each other. 🙂
Thank you so much for reading! Till next dose of inspiration! 💖
Dr. Edgar is this week’s guest writer. Follow him @drgerodias at Instagram.
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