By now, the new school year is under way, and all the jitters and nervousness about staring a new year are out of the way. College students weren’t the only ones preparing to embark on a new adventure in the last few weeks. Across the country, July 1st marked the date when brand new medical residents were hitting the wards officially as doctors and a few weeks later new medical and dental school students were picking up 500 page syllabi ( per class) in preparation for four years of training. The excitement and anxiety associated with starting something new is universal and is just another part of the journey. This month, we’ll hear from two alumni as they reflect on their experiences on their first day as a surgery resident and first day as a dental student.
Dr. Loren Walywn-Tross is originally from Grand Rapids, MI. He attended Oakwood University, and subsequently attended the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. His professional aspirations include pursuing international medicine, by serving as a missionary physician or working with Doctors Without Borders. In his spare time, he likes to read, play sports and try new activities and foods.
I”m still getting acclimated to the 3 hour time change so waking up at 5am (8am east coast time) is no problem. I put on my uniform, ensuring that all my insignia is in its proper place. I gather my stethoscope, pen light, moleskin note book, make sure I have my fresh new hospital badge and head out the door.
I finally make it into my workroom and change into my scrubs, Danskos, and fresh white coat. I look up the latest email from the AMA and NEJM to peruse the newest medical news. 0700 rolls around and I head up to the conference room for general surgery intern lecture. As I walk (my doctorly, brisk, don’t talk to me cuz I’m busy, walk) I break into a cold sweat – I have no clue as to what the topic for the lecture is. I shrug it off; today is not the day to show weakness. I break into a cold sweat again remembering that Dr. S. is kinda ruthless during morning lecture. Luckily, when I get there, he realizes that it’s the first day and decides to take it easy as we talk about colorectal anatomy.
9 am finally rolls around and general surgery clinic finally starts. According to the nurse’s census, we have approximately 50 morning clinic patients and 50 afternoon clinic patients. I know that I’m an intern, but I shrug it off. I’ve been training for four years to handle this. Thankfully, though, there were 3 other interns, 2 upper level residents, as well as 2 physician assistant students. I will be ok. I worked up breast masses, hernias (umbilical, and inguinal), bariatric pre ops and post ops. I was finally able to order my own diagnostic studies and prescribe drugs.
The transition between medical student to physician is quite drastic. I went from waiting for attending physicians to perform breast and hernia exams, to performing thee exams alone (with a chaperone), and reporting the results. Although “pimping” from the attendings didn’t change, I now was able to proficiently apply the knowledge I had gained. The plethora of medical concepts, that before were to me just theory, now became the reality that guided my practice. In addition, I became the one helping the medical students/PA students decide what was important, assisting them in forming differential diagnosis, and directing them on potential management plans and/or where to find the necessary information.
At the end of my first day, I felt accomplished. I was finally a physician, and my first day was spent optimizing the population’s health via surgery. That feeling lasted until I realized that I forgot to pre admit the 8 patients that I had scheduled for surgery. After clinic, I spend the next 1 hour and a half pre admitting these patients, ordering labs and imaging as well as entering pre op orders in their inpatient record. At the end of the day, I was still the same person; however my role had drastically changed. From a student, I had become a teacher. My dreams were finally a reality.