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At the brink

Posted on 23 September 2013 by Jimmy Yan (Meds 2015)

In a few short hours, clerkship will have started for me. I realize that this past week was the official start of 3rd year, but as it was largely an instructional week about some of the “how-tos” regarding clerk duties (“how to access powerchart”, “how to do a sign off”, “how to dictate”…) – a clerkship bootcamp – it really did not register with me.

Now, I cannot stop pondering over what tomorrow, the next week, and the upcoming year is going to bring. What will call be like? How different is this going to be from the past two years? How long will I be able to keep biking to my shifts? How difficult are the end of rotation exams going to be?

Ultimately my mind circles back to one question: “am I ready?”

Honestly, I want to tell myself yes. Reason it out – that hundreds, if not thousands, of students have been on this path before me and have been just fine. Normalize the process in order to soothe it over, get a hold on the anxiety, and move forward.

Yet the question returns, like a demented boomerang. It ceases to just go away. Each time it reappears it brings a friend: another question, a hypothetical situation, a hidden doubt.

Somtimes, I welcome these thoughts, as in the past, I’ve relied on the fear and worry to motivate me onward. But the stakes seem higher now, and especially with the fact that I’ll be working with real people who are sick, I don’t want to be the one needing to make mistakes in order to do it right.

If getting through medical school is a journey, I liken it to one across a mountain path. The first two years are along hilly trails: winding around, rising steady, rough at times, but generally you can see the route and it’s something you’ve been on before. Clerkship then rises out of that like a sudden and steep peak, and I now stand at its brink. Personally I haven’t experienced this yet, but I’m assured that my skills and knowledge should be adequate for the ascent. With it looming over me, I cannot be sure.

It doesn’t help that I’ve always had a fear of heights as well.

I guess in the end, I’ve made it this far, there’s nothing else to do but climb.

See you all at the next plateau.

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