Sunday, January 3, 2010

No Vacations for the Next Ten Years?

The Christmas break went by far too quickly to my liking.  It was the last solid block of vacation junior medical students like myself will have for a very long time; April will see us starting our clinical clerkship (as senior medical students), followed by a year of internship, then board exams for physicians, some 2-3 years of residency, and many more years of specialization or sub-specialization if one desires.  (If I'd be able to fit in getting married and starting my own family in between those very hectic years, I'd stop getting lines on my forehead or spending sleepless nights wondering if my eggs are staging an uprising in my ovaries.)  Now clerkship/internship/residency/fellowship does not make any allowances for public holidays, weekends, or class suspensions--what matters only is if you're on duty or not.  I'm quite excited by the prospect of actually working with the patients 24/7, kinesthetic learner that I am, although I think the novelty will wear off quite quickly as soon as (1) a patient's bodily fluids/excreta/vomitus decorate my uniform and make me less pleasing in an olfactory sense, (2) a superior piles work on me and screams at me just because I'm the bottom feeder in the hospital food chain, (3) I'm running on adrenaline and no sleep while helping out on a code blue and the patient's family members are emotional wrecks in the way, (4) I miss out on very important family reunions or rare outings with the barkada, (5) whatever other scenario involving me trying to help treat the patient and learn at the same time, while trying to maintain some shreds of sanity and an acceptable physical appearance.

Junior year already has shown how precious little time we have to ourselves, and I wonder if I'd have the same luxury of stolen moments of just vegging out or engaging in my little but very important hobbies in the next few years.  (Vegging out just feels more delicious after long hours of working until one's neurons voluntarily commit suicide to force one to rest, non?)  I'm still confused as to how I'd balance everything that has already been part of my life prior to medical school with my professional aspirations, personal goals, and increasing workload and responsibilities.  Granted, I'm not the type of person who demands everything in the future to go exactly as planned, but I do have some sense of urgency and of wanting to know how everything might go and what I might do about those things so I'll be sure I'm still on course.  A concrete five-year plan sounds nice but quite frustrating if I'd have limited choices and chances; I'm not too pleased with the idea of having no plan at all, either.  How do I choose what's right for me and what was meant for me?  And how am I going to function without a proper vacation in the next ten years?

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