The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu
It’s 3am, been awake for 21 hours, the ER needs the ICU resident (me) for a polytrauma and resuscitation. Heart racing, running up the stairs, almost dropping my palm pilot recalling my ATLS protocol and where and how to put in a chest tube. Everything was new, the hospital, the ward, the faces where unlike in Cheers, no one knew my name. A few hours goes by, the adrenaline rush is real, I needed a coffee to be ready for day 2. This was the beginning of my 5 -year residency program.
For those who may be unaware, July 1st is the day that thousands of orthopedic residents around the world start their journey on becoming a qualified and practicing surgeon. Medical school is over, your friends are scattered around the country, you’ve traded your short white coat for a long one, pockets full of “survivor guides”, with a pager on your waist. They are MDs now specializing in an area they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Every orthopedic surgeon around the world will have his/ her own memory of this day. For the next 5 years, that memorable ‘beep’ will interrupt a meal, your sleep, time with a patient or their family as it waits for no one. Duty calls and the quest for lifelong learning begins. The body of knowledge and the skills are infinite, time however, is not.
A Time of Discovery
Residency is a time of forced maturity. It is filled with stress and the emotional highs and lows with heightened responsibility with every day that goes by where one day, the only person the patient will be staring at is you. Before then, there are (more) exams to be written, knowledge and skills to be acquired, research to be done, classification systems to memorize with principles to understand. Residency is a time of intense discovery combined with intense distraction. Being pulled in many directions simultaneously while trying to find your way is a challenge that every resident will face. Rest assured, slowly but surely, the unknown will become known but we are on this day, the color of scrubs, very green.
To the residents
This is a momentous day for all of you. There will be many questions, some of which will have no answers. Remain inquisitive, push for understanding, listen to your patients while you forge new friendships, mentors and a body of knowledge that will allow you to care for them. As faculty, we have your back, call us anytime for anything, this is not a solo mission but an orchestra driving unity, camaraderie, and shared accomplishment.
As educators, we have a large responsibility for your well-being and helping you achieve your potential. If we can help you find your path, that’s the most important thing we can do. This career is incredible if you embrace it. Take care of yourself, exercise, spend time outdoors, it will make you stronger and more resilient to step away from time to time. You’ve chosen your calling, where the journey of thousands steps begins with this very first one, on July 1.
Dr. Danny Goel is a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon, Clinical Professor and CEO of PrecisionOS Technology
PrecisionOS is a leading provider of virtual reality surgical training for the medical industry. Healthcare professionals across numerous societies, universities, and medical device companies prefer PrecisionOS modules because they improve the transfer of knowledge and skills. Multiple, independent published trials confirm that participants using the PrecisionOS platform become better, more confident surgeons. PrecisionOS has collaborative affiliations with more than 65 major global residency programs where the platform is being used in more than 55 countries globally. Learn more at www.precisionostech.com.