I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for a few months, but haven’t had anything of substance to write about. Residency is the same, week-in and week-out. The service and my duties change some from month-to-month, but I am still gone from home 12+ hours a day and fitting in workouts around studying in the evening.
When I started residency, I thought I would be using my off days for four-hour training sessions. As the reality of my schedule set in, I found myself hoping for the time and energy for even a couple hours of training on my days off. I found that I did not want to plan those 24 hours around training. I wanted to sleep in, spend time with my husband and dogs, talk to my family, go grocery shopping, do some laundry, and prepare some meals for the coming week. Workouts were fairly low on the priority list on my days off.
In contrast, training has become a top priority on the days I work. As an intern, I spend much of my day learning, having my knowledge tested, and facing new challenges. Like many new doctors, my growth in the medical profession has not been perfect; I may miss an important piece of a patient’s medical record, get a diagnosis wrong, or give incorrect answers to an impromptu verbal quiz from my attending physician. Though I am confident I will become an outstanding doctor, there have certainly been days where I have left work feeling inadequate. Working out is now the one to two hours each day when nobody tells me what I am doing wrong. Training connects me with something that I know I do well, and rejuvenates my sense of self. Even better, I can do it on my own terms. If I am tired, I go easy. I alter hard workouts to fit my mood. I listen to my body. I do what sounds good to me.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining. I love what I do, and although being an intern is mentally exhausting at times, I’ve chosen to embrace the challenges that my new life presents. The medical profession has a high burnout rate, two reasons being that the workload for physicians is so large and it is difficult to stop thinking about patients after leaving the hospital. I have met multiple residents who said, “I use to do X, and then I started residency.” I have also met many attending physicians who stress continuing my hobbies throughout my career and who remind me that the world and my life do not stop simply because I am in residency. I have learned that despite the demanding schedule of the medical profession, I must find a way to balance my professional life with the things I enjoy personally to decrease my risk of burnout.