Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scared Stiff

In a world where people live and die from decisions people make, where 80 hour work weeks are considered merciful, and you are asked to give up sleep and family time without a blink, we're supposed to be tough.

But I'm feeling anything but.

I am scared. Probably more scared than I have ever been in my whole life.

I realize now that all those other times I thought I was scared, I was just nervous. (Well, except before Bug was born. I was actually scared then. But completely different.)

This time, I'm so scared it is difficult to swallow. I walk around with this strange feeling in my stomach that alternates between a dead weight and a hole. I find myself looking at the ceiling when I thought I was sleeping.

Starting July 1st, I am actually going to be taking care of patients. Not medical student patient care. Not "go see this patient, write a note, tell me what you think, and then I'll take care of the rest" type patient care.

This is the real thing.

Obviously (and probably a huge source of relief to all you reading this) I am supervised. Closely.
There are people very invested, for my sake, their sake, the hospital's sake, and mostly the patient's sake, very invested in making sure I don't screw up.

But for the first time, I can sign my name with an MD behind it. And if I write an order in a patient's chart, it will happen. For the first time in my professional life, I have real responsibility that has real consequences. Never will the transition be so enormous.

As a medical student, we can interject our opinions or thoughts, but in the end, we are not responsible. Now, I carry the title "Intern." And that means I am responsible.

I love patients. I love the feeling that I am in a field where someone, voluntary or not, puts their trust in me to take care of them. To treat them. To ease their pain and their worries.

Only in parenthood do we see that some type of trust.

And the thought that I might hurt someone, unintentionally of course, but still hurt someone none the less, scares me.

During medical school, we study nearly endlessly. We take exam after exam. We sacrifice for that opportunity.

To have the trust of a patient.

And I don't want to do anything to lose it.


  1. Yes, scared--but somewhere in there is the hope. You will find it. You will gain incremental confidence and confidences. Oh worst, yes, you will make mistakes and then believe you are in a whole new scared program no longer 101 but 5000 series classes. On the other side of a day, a week and then a month and a year you will travel through the scared:in and out of days and over weeks, and into the night of your very own room. .. and believe it or not...your supper will still be hot! Because somebody, most people, still love you, no mattter what. And life will be full ans sweet and good again-- Better than before, after all. XXOO

  2. Wow. It is intresting to hear a MD's feeling. Of all the dr.'s David has been to I never thought of this side of them now I will.
    And like Bonnie said you will still be loved no matter what.

  3. i agree with's interesting and insightful to hear your thoughts on this. but what an amazing accomplishment! you have the passion and talent to do extremely well and i think your nerves will serve you well. it's never a good sign to be TOO confident and not at all fearful. you'll be great!

  4. Katherine, you are going to do great! I understand why you'd be feeling scared although I can honestly say that I have NO idea how you feel. But I know you're going to do great and I'm happy for you that you're finally making that transition. I'm sure after all those years of school, it's probably a bit surreal to consider the fact that the time has arrived.