After a grueling first two years of surgical residency, I welcomed with open arms my surgical research years. Junior surgical residency was arguably the toughest years of my training to date. Long hours at the hospital; the uncertainty of being called in to the hospital when on-call, which led to chronic anxiety and at times insomnia; and the pressures I put on myself to excel in all aspects of my training were draining, to say the least.
Of course, when it came time to leave my clinical responsibilities and pursue my Master’s degree, I was overcome with relief. First, I got my life back on track, leading a life of optimal nutrition, physical activity, and sleep and exploring different horizons in surgery.
Well, after roughly two years, this time is coming to a bittersweet close. I have learned many lessons over these months, which I hope to use during the next transition of my surgical education. First, this period of time renewed my passion for vascular surgery, making me yearn to come back to my clinical responsibilities with a new perspective. It’s easy to take for granted during the routine of our days how fortunate we are in our positions to provide the broad range of vascular care to our patients. It’s quite easy to forget the most humbling fact that we provide limb- and life-saving interventions to our patients in their most vulnerable of times.
Second, this time allowed me to grow as a person, learning techniques to remain calm in the face of adversity, to take at least 10 minutes a day for mindfulness, and to be cognizant and gauge when I am creeping upon that tipping point. I believe the key to success and happiness is to keep re-evaluating and being honest with ourselves, our happiness, our stresses, and our anxieties and to reach out to pillars of support, whoever they may be.
And finally, we are fundamentally teachers and inspirations to the next generation of surgeons who will follow in our footsteps. By being open, encouraging, and sharing our enthusiasm for our specialty, our patients, and our research, we may see the seeds of the future flourish under our wings.
That being said, I am terrified of returning to vascular surgery. I know it will be a challenge transitioning to senior resident, and I am scared that the progress I made over these years in terms of wellness and wellbeing will regress; however, in the end, I have to take a leap of faith and hope it all pulls together … seamlessly.
Dr. Drudi is a vascular surgery resident at McGill University, Montreal, and the resident medical editor of Vascular Specialist.