Transition from Student to Doctor

It’s hard to believe it, but I’m a 4th year medical student now! I took Step 2 CK, took a couple weeks off to relax with family, and just finished a month of ICU. It was a hard month, but I learned so much. I realized something truly magical happens between 2nd year and residency. The student learns to be a doctor.

Two lives melded

Although we spend two long grueling years learning the basic sciences, there’s so much more to being a doctor than knowing histology slides, drug names, and disease pathways. We have to know how to write good notes, how to answer nurses’ questions, how to put in orders, how to remember the details of our 15 patients, and how to stay awake and admit during an 18 hour call with the expectation of presenting all our admissions during rounds the next morning. There’s a system that we have to navigate. There’s a responsibility for patient care that we have to assume. There’s an air of confidence that we have to develop.

This whole process of becoming a doctor didn’t click for me until internal medicine rotation, my last rotation of 3rd year. And it was drilled home during my month of ICU. Afterwards, I understood what it took to be an inpatient resident and manage the floor while taking admissions. I saw the need to prioritize — to page consults in the morning, to put discharge orders in right after rounds, to “run the list” (make sure no orders are missed for each patient and that the plan is updated), to answer the pages that are received every 10 seconds, and then to finally work on the progress notes for the day.

Once I realized what it took, I went from someone who was passively participating and just there to present my 2-3 patients during rounds, to being an active part of the team, carrying 4-5 patients and being directly involved with their care. I could answer nurses’ questions, update patients and their families, and pend missing orders for residents to sign. With each passing week, I became more accustomed to being in the hospital, to staying late, and to waking up early ready to hit the floor. And as more time passed, the more pride I had in my work.

I remember times during 3rd year that would I find myself tugging at the bottom of my white coat, wishing it were just a little bit longer. But before I know it, it will be long enough! I can only hope that until then, I continue learning how to be more efficient and how to be a better provider for my patients. We’re only 7 months away from Match Day and 9 months away from graduation! It’s so close I can almost taste it!!