I get asked often just what keeps me going, keeps me happy & keeps me sane after all these years of trying to become the physician I am today. I have been described by many in my circle as one of the most relaxed people they have ever met. In a field where type A personalities are the norm & where every decision is life or death I tend to stand out like a sore thumb. Sometimes I think that all that I have done has been like one long dream & that one day I'm just going to wake up because it's almost too good to be true.
I realize that every day I wake up going to work in a career that I could only dream of when I was little. I wished I could have had the dream scenario where I just would have decided that I wanted to be a doctor, talked to a relative/friend who is also a doctor & after getting all the tips of the trade applied to a few schools & let the rest of the magic happen. Unfortunately, I had to travel a road with a little bit more bumps than I would've like to end up at this destination. I tell pre-med students all the time that it is not about how you get there(medical school), you just need to find a way because there are very few institutions as closed off to the general student body as medical school is.
I remember when I first took organic chemistry, even before I could register for the course it was determined the "weed out" course for pre-medical students. According to all of the popular student blogs organic chemistry & physiology were the courses that were going to determine if a career in medicine was for you. So of course I failed the first time around, I mean I remember leaving the class in the middle of the semester because by that time I had given up on just about everything. It took everything in me just to not go ahead & change my major all together. At this time I didn't have a mentor to sulk to, just a few classmates who were now after a semester with the evil professor in the same boat as I was. I ended up taking it over again later on & thankfully passed that class as well as physiology & turned the experience into a nice personal statement for medical school which I was told was a big reason for acceptance(other than the show of support I got from a former alumnus - i'll save that for another blog)
Another memorable failure I previously documented. Take a look
It's these situations that give me peace today because I know that anyone of these could have changed my life completely. It's why with confidence I can tell that pre-med who might not have had the best grades or scored really high on the MCAT that it's ok & not the end of the world. One thing we a lot of physicians who have "made it" do is hold up a facade to the pre-meds as if everything was easy sledding. There isn't a profession of medicine I can think of that my classmates went into that I couldn't point out someone who struggled along the way. It's the reason why I am so relaxed these days, because I know that I have been through & have seen the worst of the worst that this profession has to offer & still I stand here today. My failures have been as vital to my story as my successes have been & that is something I wouldn't change for the world.
Growing up with no mentors in the health field until I was a freshman in college really made me appreciate the importance of having a mentor/mentee relationship. Its been one of the reasons why I make it a point to mentor everyone in arms reach of me regardless of their future endeavors. I have had plenty of success stories but this one probably shoots up to the top. As a senior resident(PGY2) my goal for my interns was to get them acclimated with the transition from medical student to medical resident & make it as seamless as possible. One of my interns was very interested in Heme/Onc & being in a small program like we were I knew that it was going to be an uphill battle to get there. Mostly due to our program being very restrictive when it came to doing outside electives. In fact, electives in general as over the course of my 36 months of training I only had 2 elective months. In the two years we worked together we spent countless hours discussing strategies to not only get prime elective spots but how to outperform those who had the advantages of coming from bigger programs with more exposure to Heme/Onc cases. We have worked on essays, journal articles & I may have sent an email or two "encouraging" our program that the importance of allowing her to get these outside electives were not only for her but for the program in general. I was ecstatic to hear this past weekend that she had been accepted into a fellowship program that only takes a handful a year. One of the best feelings in the world is when your mentee reaches the goals they worked so hard to achieve & I am glad to say that I have another success story to add to the books.
So I am finally moved into the new practice & now the time comes where I have to start introducing myself to the neighborhood. I am in this weird dynamic now where I have to introduce myself to potential patients in the area and the other specialists as well. One of the comforts of residency I took for granted was that I grew to know all of the physicians in the area. I knew doctors in just about every speciality so my network was not an issue. But now even though I am only like 30 mins away from where I trained it is as if I moved to an entirely different state. In the hospital the majority of my consults are whoever is on call & on the outpatient setting who ever is the first name that pops up that's on their insurance plan is who I send them to.
What I have noticed is the reversal of trends that occurs when you are first starting out a practice. When you're an established primary care physician the majority of the time the specialists come to you with the introductions because they need the referrals but as you start out you have to go to them. Not that I don't like to introduce myself but I definitely won't miss the times when the tables turn & they're searching out for me when they need some more referrals.
So yesterday I updated my Facebook TL with the latest news regarding my practice(see pic). It's been about 3 months with my company & for the most part I have been bouncing around at different partners' offices covering for their vacations & or learning the ropes of an outpatient physician. I figured I'd let my Facebook family know first that I was going to be opening up soon given that a few had been asking about it since I graduated residency. After almost 150 Facebook notifications, many phone calls & text messages I was floored with the amount of praise I received. I had family, childhood friends, former residents & attendings offering congratulations & Ill admit via this blog (not in person tho) that I got a little teary eyed. I've never been one to take for granted my accomplishments but I can admit that I have been so busy actually working on these goals that I forget to actually celebrate them when they come. I am extremely thankful for all of my friends & family who have been as instrumental in getting me here than I am(Way to many to mention). You are what drives me to stay up late reading/studying when I should be in bed or go the extra mile for my patients.