It’s Only the First Day and I’m Already in My Feelings…

It only took one day to muster up many of the feelings I’ve been taught to compartmentalize or simply accept as “part of the job”. This morning we were asked, “Why are you here? What do you want to take with you”? In the beginning, my imposter syndrome overwhelmed my mind with anxiety that I couldn’t figure out the answers to these simple questions that I knew deep down inside.  The truth is: I’m tired, I’m fed up, and I don’t want to sit by and accept this anymore.

I’m tired of writing the Incident Reports that never seem to produce a change in the operating room. How many needles have to go missing until we realize our system of popping them off the suture into the air is ridiculous? How many more times will I have to hear about a fellow nurse fudging the count or the chart so she doesn’t have to write an incident report? What even happens with the report that I take 15 minutes of my break to write? Does anyone even look at it? Why do I feel like no matter how many times I write up an issue, it happens again to someone else?

I’m fed up with the constant excuses of why I need to mentally prepare myself to lie and say I have a great life balance and I’m only working 80 hours a week as an intern. Why is that even a human standard? Why is it even acceptable? Does it truly make me weak to admit that after being awake for 24 hours as a scrub nurse I am relying on pure muscle memory to do my job and hand over the right instruments during a case? So, only heaven can help me when I have to make it through 28 hours as an intern on the floor and I won’t even have a multidisciplinary surgical team to protect me from mistakes? Am I really supposed to smile and say I love my program when we all know in reality there’s a high possibility that I’ll probably have a small closet with a bed or smelly lounge chair in the hospital as my permanent residence and I only go home to grab a weeks worth of food so my partner knows I’m alive. Unfortunately, I won’t even get a moment of peace in my tiny call room due to the faces of the patients that may or may not have been at risk of my own sleep-deprived medical errors carved into the back of my eyelids haunting me in the wee hours of the night just as I fight my way into the REM wave of sleep.

Despite the countless number of “off the record” warnings, the “this is the way we’ve always done it”, “don’t go making trouble for yourself” words of advice, I don’t want to accept it anymore. I refuse to sit by and just let it happen to me without trying to fight back. I’m here because I’ve been searching within myself this whole first year of medical school to answer the question of why did I leave a promising career as a Cardiac OR nurse to go to medical school. Why am I fighting imposter syndrome on a daily basis and attempting to grow a thick skin to the other students who constantly show their competitive nature in class to been seen as the best student, but not the best colleague? All year, I struggled through and I couldn’t understand why or how I made it through the first year. But today, it finally clicked. I left my comfortable career because I wanted to break the “leadership says we don’t have the funding” chains, I wanted to sound the “what we are doing isn’t right despite the VP’s bonus checks” alarms, and I wanted to do more and be a part of the movement to make healthcare what it was supposed to be- a system to heal people.  Our current system has room for improvement, and to say that I am eager to learn what I can do to change it is an understatement.

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