As a kid of the 90s and a pop culture junkie, I frame much of my life through celebrities of the time, and in the words of my queen Britney Spears: “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. I am however a 23 year old Australian girl on the cusp of two huge changes in my life that will tip me over the edge to becoming an “adult” – graduating from medical school (after which time I will apparently become a doctor) and moving out of home to live by myself for the very first time.
I have the tendency to catastrophize in any given situation, and accordingly have fine tuned my ability to panic as these changes draw near. According to my friends, though my worries fall on the spectrum of realistic to ridiculous they are largely entertaining, why is why I thought I might share a few of my stream of consciousness concerns for your entertainment.
Laughable and/or legitimate concerns about my future as a doctor:
1. I am going to be a doctor.
I realize that is the point of six years of medical school but somehow I never really thought it would happen. Alas between applying for intern jobs, being invited to financial planning talks and attending a ridiculously awkward graduation photo shoot, it appears that this is happening, which creates the below concerns.
2. I am no longer going to be “just a medical student”.
If I make a mistake or don’t know something as a doctor, there is nothing to hide behind. If I am in a bad mood or have a headache, I can’t just go home. I also won’t be able to just leave the ward for a “cake break” or make the excuse of having to go to a tutorial when the ward round becomes too tedious. This all makes me very anxious, and not just because I hang out for my afternoon cupcake.
3. I will have to work at night.
I am a nanna. Australia Day is my favourite party day of the year, because besides the Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown, I get to have fun with all my friends during the day and be in bed by 10. I have the genuine worry that I will fall asleep on the ward during night shift, and this is not helped by the look I get from more senior doctors when I tell them I am going to be an intern next year but do not drink coffee.
4. I might be called on to help someone on a plane.
I am a bad flier. For some reason, put me in transit between my departure and destination and I turn into a very unpleasant person (carrying a very unpleasant amount of carry on luggage). Also, I wear contacts, and when I fly I have to take them out. I have glasses, but for some reason I’m half blind in them. I also take the opportunity to use in flight entertainment to numb my brain during these difficult times (exhibit A: on the way back from India two years ago, I watched Monte Carlo, multiple episodes of Glee and listened to a lot of early Justin Bieber). None of this bodes well for me being able to actually help someone in need of medical assistance on my plane flight should I be called on to over the loudspeaker. I am scared to change the prefix of my name to Doctor for this very reason.
5. I may never actually be called Doctor, as no-one can pronounce my surname.
In a medical school with a six year course, many people joke that we earn a “letter” each year. Having finished fifth year I am currently a DOCTO but I fear that I will never get the R. Not just because of the plain denial alluded to in point 1, but because nobody can pronounce my surname. My surname is two letters, and both letters are consonants. I am sure you see how this has caused pronunciation problems my whole life. On the bright side, if no-one can call me doctor, point 4 above is negated.
6. I will be responsible for my patients and for myself.
This is the one concern I have that I think is entirely legitimate and not at all laughable. As a medical student I perform procedures, clerk and examine and consent patients, but at the end of the day I am still a student, and the ultimate responsibility lies in someone else’s hands. As a doctor, those hands will be mine. The trust of patients and their families is something very sacred, and despite almost six years of medical school is the thing that scares me the most.
Clearly I am at the very beginning of my transition from girl to adult, and that is not even taking into account the moving out situation which brings a whole other level of anxiety into the picture (e.g. I don’t like handling raw meat, will I have to be a vegetarian? I get lonely by myself but am also lazy at making plans, will I end up a recluse like the women in Grey Gardens?). I hope that the coming months will bring a little more clarity (and perhaps common sense) to address my concerns, but I fear not: if all goes wrong, I will always have the words of Britney Spears to soothe my worries.
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