Hunger Games

The following is a piece I wrote during my 3rd year of pediatric training and it was recently published on the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Pediatrics blog! Let me know what you think and click on the link to read the full post on UCSF’s site!

Sometimes residency seems like a game of who’s the hungriest – who’s the smartest, most prepared, most eager, and most willing to sacrifice personal time, and sometimes sanity, to succeed. Given the nature of the game, it’s to be expected that there are moments when an otherwise incredibly capable and driven individual may question their merits or purpose. Like any young professional, I have felt that precious, formative moments can devolve into a crisis of consciousness – is this my true purpose? Where is my life going? I often find myself questioning my place here. Perhaps that is why residency has been the most challenging time in my life.

But I didn’t just stumble upon this path. I chose it. Throughout years of scholastic preparation including a robust and fulfilling extra-curricular life that started in high school, a joint degree combining humanities and science in college, two daunting standardized tests (that are billed to dictate your future success, or failure, as it may be) and one, very stressful and not at all fun-type-of lottery that punctuated medical school, I thoughtfully considered my future. And now, I find myself here – a 3rd year pediatric resident, a few weeks shy of graduation and terrified of a future that seems to be hurling at me like a meteor. At the culmination of all I have studied and prepped for, just as I feel ripe enough to hatch into the world of professional medicine and advocacy, I find myself feeling a little burnt-out – singed by the experience of it all and just smoldering enough to make it to the end.

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And so it begins

Image

This is a picture I took of a trail in Clemmons, North Carolina.

The road to be a doctor is fraught with many dangers, toils, and snares (through many of which I’ve already come). Now, 7th months shy of another ending, I feel ready and yet totally unprepared for what lies ahead. It’s not that I feel clinically unprepared (although I know I still have a lot to learn), it’s that I’m still unsure of my path, even as I am starting it. After fighting off the beast of residency, I feel like I just want to pick up the scraps of myself and walk out whole.

And here I am. At a new beginning. A new path. A new start. But as I speculate about leaving academic medicine, essentially all I’ve ever known, and try to forge a way for myself into the world of policy and health innovation and social justice work to get about the business of reshaping and re-envisioning the future for impoverished children and families in our country, I find myself feeling more lost than ever and afraid I won’t find my way.

And so it begins, my blog and my hopefulness – my start to reconciling my passion for justice with my training in clinical medicine, and all the little things that happen along the way. Rhea. MD. This is who I am. And this is what I do.