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Wednesday Jun 17, 2015

Helping Hands: Count on Colleagues' Support During Transitions

Summer marks some major transitions for medical students and residents. Medical school graduates take on the mantle of physicians as they transition to interns. Interns become upper-year residents. Residency graduates move on to practice or fellowship training. With each stage, we gain more knowledge and responsibility.

 Here are a dozen reasons I feel confident about making it through my first year of residency -- my co-interns.

This summer, I am facing the transition from medical student to doctor, while also making some other big life changes with my spouse. He is changing jobs, and we are moving, buying our first home and navigating our basset hound’s newfound separation anxiety. It is a lot to juggle.  

It’s also a little scary, but more than that, it’s exciting. Although trading my short student white coat for a longer physician coat is a huge step -- and one not taken lightly -- I am ready.

Even before starting residency orientation, I knew a few things that have made me ready:

  • I have been training to become a physician for nearly a decade.
  • I can admit when I do not know something and need to learn more.
  • I am passionate about my patients and family medicine.
  • My mentors and family will help me when I need it, with both medical and personal wisdom.

Now that I have been in orientation for more than a week and have had opportunities to bond with my co-interns and some faculty members, I have found more things -- at least 39 more -- to help me survive my first year as a physician. These 39 include my residency team/family -- 12 co-interns and 27 upper-years.  

I have already seen firsthand how my new residency family members help each other both inside and outside of work. At work, we have been there to aid our team members struggling with advance cardiac life support medication doses, and we worked together to solve complicated scenarios. At home, we have lent helping hands moving furniture and shared remedies for homesickness (for both humans and dogs).  

I will start caring for my own patients on July 1, but I realize that even though I am taking on new roles and greater responsibility, I am not doing it all on my own. I have a great team and family to support me.

So if you are making a transition this summer, remember to stop and look around -- because none of us is alone.   

Kristina Zimmerman, M.D., is the student member of the AAFP Board of Directors.

Posted at 12:47AM Jun 17, 2015 by Kristina Zimmerman

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