Recharging the Mind and Spirit
It’s almost the end of my PGY1 (Intern) year and senior resident responsibilities loom nearby. Overall it’s been a good year. I got to see a lot of patients and be responsible for their care. Along the way I saw a wide variety of cases and learned to be a better clinician. I’m a better team-player and leader and I understand my role as a doctor more clearly.
But with having done nine months of 1 in 4 call and currently coming off a continuous 5 month block, I am tired. My life at home is disorganized with unfinished paperwork and dirty laundry piles. This blog has been in neglect. I have textbooks on my shelf that have gotten very little use this year. It’s very easy to get caught up with your work life.
I remember reading Hot Lights, Cold Steel when I was in my 1st year of undergrad. In his book, Michael Collins describes how as an orthopedic resident he was working an upward of 80-100 hours of week to hone his craft. I remember I thought- “100 hours can’t be that bad, if given the chance, I’ll work as hard as I possibly can to make myself a great doctor.”
The truth is working 80 hours isn’t that hard. Working 90 hours or 100 hours isn’t that much harder too. The work itself is not the problem. The hardest part about working longs hours is the sacrifices you have to make with your limited time.
Out of the 168 hours of my week, approximately 60-90 hours are spent at the hospital each week. I spend about an hour commuting, and 1.5 hours for meals each day. I also sleep very little – averaging 5.5 hours a night/post-call which equals approximately 40 hours when rounded. On a busier week (80 hours) that would leave me with approximately 31 free hours in a week or about 5 hours each day.
The hard part about a resident’s life fitting the rest of your life into those 5 hours each day. You have to find time to do essential errands such as groceries, banking, shopping. You learn to make time for your significant other, family and friends. With what time you do have left, you try to read around your cases and improve your knowledge. If you’re not careful with your time, you personal life will come to a standstill.
Luckily, I have some time off before my PGY2 year starts to recharge a
nd refocus. It’s funny how our calendar year starts on July 1st, I don’t know of any other profession that follows a similar schedule. I’m hoping to revive this blog with a co-blogger and get around to outlining future posts. Finally, I’m going to sleep and get lots of it. I never appreciated continuous uninterrupted sleep as much as I do now.
June is always a good time to recharge yourself. A career in medicine can be long and arduous, but be glad there are breaks where you can reflect on what an amazing journey it’s been so far.