Residency can be stressful. You're taking on new responsibilities (including patient care), getting used to on call shifts, finding time to sleep, trying to impress your attendings, and studying for the boards. And now... a pandemic.
With all that going on, how could you not feel anxiety last year (and now this year, too)?
The good news is, you're not alone in feeling this. Many residents communicated how they were dealing using a lot of humor and a little bit of sarcasm on the r/residency subreddit on Reddit. See if you relate to any (or all) of these.
Many programs switched to virtual conferences at the beginning of the pandemic when there was so much still unknown about the virus. The jury's still out on this one—some residents were glad to be at home safe and sound, while others were feeling like they were missing out on crucial training time, and some were just like, "is it bad if I leave my camera off?"
u/illaqueable, an attending commented on this post, "We did a telephone conference this morning at the end of which our PD asked for attendance by class year, which went really well because everyone waited politely for everyone else to speak and then we all spoke at once." We're guessing you can probably relate.
What a year to be an intern. You probably spent countless hours researching what residency would be like, what your program had in store for you, and how to be "resilient." And after all that, none of what you prepared for was actually was applicable in 2020. It was a pretty experimental year in regards to residency and what you were seeing in your daily routine. YOU DID YOUR BEST! Residency is all about learning to practice medicine better, and you did that while taking on so much!
We won't sugar coat it... You got swindled this year as far as the fun parts of residency go. However, we did see some residency programs continue their favorite traditions to keep some normalcy and joy this year. Of course, social distancing and masks were required at the annual cookie decorating and pumpkin carving contests this year.
The good news is, it has to get better from here, and you'll be able to take all of these experiences with you into your future years practicing medicine.
Does this sound like you at the very beginning of the pandemic? u/MikeGinnyMD, an attending commented on this post, "Bone protruding through thigh. It’s the Rona." Basically, COVID-19 was the leading diagnosis of 2020.
Are you anything like u/ladabadda, a PGY3 who said, "I’ve never empathized so much with a lumpy potato"? Yeah, this one might be a bit too real. On days when you want to chuck your pager as hard as you can against the wall, a little rest would be nice. We know this isn't the cure-all for sleep deprivation and stress, but taking a quick second to breathe does help.
All we're saying about this one is, whichever option you chose is perfectly fine. If you took the time to be productive, good for you! You have an immense amount of willpower. And... if you slept and slacked off, that's totally fine, too! You probably needed the free time to do some of the things you enjoy and never have time for anymore! u/AnwarSadatsDog, an attending, made a checklist for their quarantine:
- Grand Rounds presentation preparation [ ]
- Harry Potter Movies [X]
- The Boys on Amazon [X]
- LOTR & Hobbit trilogies [X]
- Dragon Age Trilogy [X]
- Mass Effect Trilogy [X]
- The Witcher Trilogy [In Progress]"
u/t-i-double-ger, a PGY4 followed up to that, saying, "6/7 ain't bad. nice work!" We couldn't agree more.
Maybe you're ranking residency programs right now and planning to interview later this year—if you are, this meme might hit the nail on the head. If going to a program where they value your health, safety, and overall wellness is important to you, this might be a good question to ask. Some residents working on the frontlines this year protested about how vaccines were being allocated at their place of work.
Have you ever told yourself, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”? Since the beginning of the pandemic, you may have been looking at sleep as a luxury that you just can’t afford. But we’ve got great news for you. Sleep actually helps you remember what you're learning and studying better. So, don't feel bad when you doze off when trying to get some studying in.
Stress? What stress? You're only a medical resident in the most crazy year ever. Everything's fine. 🔥
With all of this added stress, it’s not a surprise if you’re feeling more anxious and more overwhelmed than usual. And, as a physician, it can be tough to think of yourself as a patient who needs care, too. But you do! And you can start by doing small, daily things to reinforce your overall health and wellbeing.
u/Hippo-Crates, an attending commented, "oh god, first time I supervised an IJ central line the needle was angled towards the head and I did basically this." So, yeah, it's good to ask for help when you need it, especially when things are hectic—you're still learning!
Though not quite as wholesome as the original Goodnight Moon, this version definitely recounts 2020 in a more genuine light. Props to whoever wrote this in their work room, such a creative way to relay the struggles of being an intern last year. We want to remind you to give yourself some grace—working conditions through 2020 and into 2021 took some transitioning, and may have you feeling anxious. That’s all ok, make sure you focus on the point that all this change you’re moving through is temporary.
If you're one of the lucky healthcare workers to receive the vaccine during the first wave, we hope this one gives you a good chuckle. We also really hope that no one actually believes this and that they are listening to their healthcare providers about vaccine recommendations... We hope.
Okay, for real though, how is this not a thing already? Oh, that's right, who has time to date? But, for real, if things ever settle down, someone should make this happen. What better way to meet someone who are going through the same things as you than someone who would be on "UpToDate"?
Yeah... it do be like that sometimes. It was a scary year and definitely not what you expected from one of your years in residency—with unsafe work environments, the unknown of the new virus, and possibly having to stay away from loved ones. We know it wasn't easy and there very well could have been some crying involved. Just know that you aren't alone in feeling this way, and there's always someone on the Internet in the same boat to give you a good laugh.
All laughs and super-relatable memes aside, we're passionate about physician wellness and fighting burnout. The bottom line is: physician burnout is a system-wide problem, and now, the workload is heavier and even more trying. We try to make learning medicine, preparing for boards, and keeping knowledge updated for practice as easy and time efficient as possible so you can focus more on your own wellness. Here's to hoping that 2021 is filled with more of the joys of practicing medicine and less of the hardships.