September 19, 2023

One Year In, Many to Follow

As I sit here and write this, it is the beginning of July 2023 - the start of my second year of Emergency Medicine residency. Reflecting back, I'm surprised I made it this far. In life, it's easy to get comfortable. It’s easy to feel like you're a cog in the wheel, experiencing the same mundane thing over and over. In Emergency medicine, this is absolutely not the case. Every day is fraught with challenges, unique from the previous. In the beginning of intern year, I wrote myself a letter as an opportunity to get some of my insecurities or questions down on paper. It was an attempt to comfort myself and handle some of my pre-residency anxiety. In the letter, I asked myself the following questions:

  • Will I ever feel like I truly saved a life or made a difference?
  • Will somebody come to me and ask what the prognosis of their loved one is, knowing full well that the answer is ‘not good?’
  • Will I pronounce someone deceased, thus removing them from this world?

In just one short year, all the answers to these questions were yes. However, I answered yes to many other questions as well, such as the following:

  • Are you ready to have this baby?
  • Are you ready to go home?
  • Do you know how incredible you are for quitting smoking or heroin or maintaining your sobriety?
  • And the most famous question of all, “Do you want a turkey sandwich?”

But in all reality, having the opportunity to share so intimately in another person's life is something absolutely unparalleled to any other experience in this universe. We see extraordinary cases, work with amazing colleagues, witness mind-blowing medical advancements, utilize pharmaceuticals, perform highly complex procedures, and engage in fascinating conversations, Every. Single. Shift. Although I'm only one year in and have my entire career ahead of me, I don't want to lose sight of this privilege and this honor that we, as emergency physicians, have. The theme of this year's newsletters is “Our Experiences” and while they are vast and unique, there is a common thread that runs deep throughout all of Emergency Medicine: When duty calls, we answer.

Meghan Bernier, DO

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