“Out of your vulnerabilities Will come your strength”
Learning is a process. Every individual learns at their own pace. Quoting our beloved late President of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam “one should continuously acquire knowledge” and adding to it is the pace factor of my own. Pace is where peace lies. A resident learns a few skills very quickly, taught or simply from observation and feels proud of themselves.. Then there are days where he or she selfdoubts for not being up to teacher’s and also his/her own expectations.
Residency along with learning, is also about un-learning, re-learning things beyond capacity one could have ever imagined. It is not just academics but also one’s own body, soul, physical and mental progress. Every day in residency teaches you something new that makes you grow academically, emotionally and therefore, it can rightly be said that everyday is a milestone achieved in itself.
Let us look into every stage of a resident’s life and let us start from conception? i.e. the admissions. Here you technically fight with lakhs of students to finally achieve or on a funnier note say fertilize a seat of your choice. The first moment where you have complete hold of your life. The NEET questions flood your mind. The mental stress is of a different level. You are at power for yourself. You are well aware of the consequences of going with or dropping the field available. There is life either ways and this is the life you chose. Now in residency, there continues the battle of mental health and power for others where you realize you are responsible for further course/outcome of your patient.
On this note I would like to highlight how residents like any other individual do get PTSD. There is one patient you loose, you grieve and with the same baggage of emotions you report to duties next morning. Here the battle is you against you. For days you calculate how the other algorithm of your decisions would have worked thus affecting the food, sleep bringing down self’s confidence and immunity. Few manage themselves, few are managed with timely help while few succumb. Not to forget how COVID -19 pandemic has been harsh on everyone. Decreased social associations, not able to meet families for months, stress about any of the relative or self acquiring the infection has all the more taken toll on residents’ mental health.
Sometimes others’ way of working add new points to your existing knowledge or may also at times annoy you. As a junior resident there are times where you breakdown just hearing the number of patients to be prepare for the OT, you dread of your emergency duties the previous day itself, there maybe times you get scolded for other’s mistakes but there are always times where as a team you proudly manage to keep an high risk patient stable and happily mutter to yourself how you and your colleague involved are also finally (mentally) stable. Stress maybe related to patients, family member’s health, financial problems, an argument with a colleague or being scolded by seniors. While selflessly serving others, it is equally important to steal time for your own physical and mental health. It is important to realize you are responsible for not just patient’s but your colleague’s, junior’s, staff’s and equally your own physical and mental health. Learning to forgive self and everyone around is a key to eustress. We as doctors want to run away from tags like anxiety, depression but how important it is to seek help for yourself before it is too late? Very. It is also important identifying if any of your colleagues need help but also not blaming yourself for not picking up signs of other’s mental stress is equally important. Coping strategies adopted by residents include speaking to family, playing sports, exercising, hanging out with friends, praying, dancing, scribbling, watching movies.
How beautifully people who have ear for music can identify any song played at its first beat itself! But trust me even more beautiful is picking up that first change in the sound intensity while fetal heart sound monitoring even before it gets manifested on the electronic machine. For an OBGY resident sound travels faster than light. A soul of a resident on waking up reaches ward even faster than a morsel reaching the stomach. These values come from within the molded minds. Ours’ is a noble profession, worshipped whole-heartedly by us. Having resuscitated dolls as a child in ghar-ghar, I cannot imagine a life otherwise even if given a choice to revert back to another profession. With the two-lives concept of OBGY, residency brings double the happiness and also double the stress.
There are platinum days where your patients want to name their child after you, wishes that their child be a doctor like you and there maybe bad days when your patient absconds and you feel to do the same. But remember what Lance Armstrong said “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever” you have to remember this to live those platinum days. Afterall, residency is just the morula-blastula phase. Growth scan abhi baki hai mere dost!