Okay, so I’m going to take a step back, push my pager to the side for a brief moment, and be real with you.

As a I write this, I’m in my second year of residency. In many specialties, you have to do an intern year before you start your specialty training.

So you go through a busy year of call and being the “low of the low” in the doctor hierarchy only to be catapulted into your second year where you basically start all over again.

Great…

So here I am, in my ​first​ year of ophthalmology training. I often joke that when I finish residency, I’m going to make a video to Drake’s “Started from the bottom” because it describes my experience to the T.

I started my ophthalmology training in July of 2017 with ​no experience​. I didn’t even know how to turn the slit lamp on.

Yeah, it was like that.

Being thrown into a busy surgical program with an exhausting call schedule is

  • Exhausting

  • Challenging

  • Overwhelming

Here’s my confession: There are times I wonder if I made the right decision.

When you mix trying to learn what feels like a foreign language with dozens of complex gadgets (it’s hard examining the eye!) with sleep deprivation, missing holidays, and being away from your loved ones…well it adds up.

And it doesn’t help that residency makes it very hard to have any form of a personal life. (More on this in a future post).

But then I think about the patients I’ve been able to help.

I remember how far I’ve come in just 6 months.

And I remember that this crazy, windy, and overwhelming journey is just temporary. And that is the key.

  • The very frequent call shifts will dramatically decrease the more senior I become.

  • This foreign language will soon become natural.

  • Soon, residency will come to an end, and I’ll be out on my own.

So, if you’re like me and occasionally have ​that fleeting thought of wonder as you study for yet another test; have to set seven alarms because it’s too hard to wake up; or you’re missing yet another holiday, know that you’re not alone…

It’s totally normal to question whether or not you made the right decision when you’re on the frontline.

This is hard. But it’s supposed to be…

Gradually, I’ve gotten into a rhythm and my struggle to tread water has morphed into a steady stride as I “put my head down” and swim forward despite the overwhelming current.

So, everything is great now, right?

No.

As I write this, I still have several months left of primary call where I carry the VERY noisey pager that often interferes with my sleep and keeps me at the hospital late into the night. To be honest, I’m exhausted.

But here’s the difference: I’ve found a way to root myself in this storm of residency, an

d I’m starting to stand tall.

And yes, I now know how to use the slit lamp and I bet if you saw me now, you’d probably think that I’ve been

 doing this for years.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s stressful.

Know that it is possible to weather the storms and make it to the other side with a smile and the fewest amount of grey hairs as possible.

It starts with you.

You have to make the decision that no matter what happens, no matter how stressful, you will find a way to keep happiness alive and the stress at a minimum.

So, what changes did I make?

I didn’t want to flood this post so in case you’re interested, enter your info below and head to your inbox for useful tips that have really helped me not only to stay afloat but to become a conditioned “swimmer”…

Check out my top 3 tips for weathering your “stress storm”.

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