Two weeks ago I left my training hospital for the last time. I had one month to make up after my maternity leave, which I completed, and then I turned in my pager and my badges and checked in with medical records about unsigned notes, and then I left the building.

It is surreal to think I won’t be a resident there anymore. It’s more surreal to think I won’t be a resident at all anymore, at least not for a few years. I’m waiting for my application for a medical license to finish wending its way through the maze of bureaucratic red tape it has to go through and then I will be a licensed physician. When I practice, I will be on my own, making my own decisions without someone supervising me. That is, quite frankly, terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong — my program has trained me very well and when push comes to shove I am confident in my ability to know how to help people and/or know when I need to ask for help in order to help people, it’s just that moment of realizing that even if you don’t need them, the training wheels are completely gone. Even though I don’t think I’m going to crash and burn, the possibility exists. That is scary. I suppose I could make the argument that it should be scary, and that if I were to be cavalier about the part where I have someone’s trust and health in my hands I might want to re-think my profession.

When I think back to where I was in July of last year, I can hardly believe how much has changed. Set aside my personal life (having a baby is completely cheating when it comes to major life differences over one year), and I still hardly recognize the intern who cried every day on the way to work for most of the first month. At my exit interview, my program director told me he had been very concerned that I was so shy that I would wilt and fade, those first few weeks. I didn’t. I bloomed. I am not generally a poster child for self-esteem but I really am proud of my work this year, and my evaluations over the course of the year back me up. I learned so much about being a good doctor, and a good resident, and also I learned some medicine while I was at it. I still have a lot to learn, heaps and piles of it, but when I look back over this year I will always be able to say that I did very well. I am grateful for that.

Sufficient unto the day, as they say, so I am trying not to worry too much about all of the challenges which are going to crop up over the next few years. It’s hard to do, since I am a worrier, but I have to try and focus on one step at a time. Next, I will worry about what to wear and where to go on my first day at my new job. Then I will worry about what comes after that. What a blessing it is to have this year to think back on and realize I have already made it through some rough waters, and come out better for it. As one of my favorite Pinterest pins says, I can do hard things. It’s been a very long year in very many ways, and it’s over now. Time to move on.

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