Six Months: Where I Was, Where I Want To Be

This coming week marks my first six months in practice. It’s been a whirlwind of a 6 months, and I can hardly believe it’s been three months since I have been “set free,” so to speak, and have been practicing independently. After my first 90 days I reflected a lot on how far I had come, but also how far I still feel like I had to go. 

In the past 90 days I have learned a few new skills, and definitely mastered some of the goals I set out to accomplish.

I got checked off on early ultrasound. 

I am now an independent medication abortion provider

I feel much more confident with IUD inserts and Nexplanon removals. 

More intangibly, I can feel myself settling into who I am as a provider. I am more confident in visits, and have become more efficient at taking histories, and doing the hard work of thinking through a plan and recommending next steps. My charting is getting more succinct, and I call and ask a lot of questions. 

At first when I was alone in clinic I felt as though I must be constantly bothering other clinicians, but what I have learned is that asking questions, and asking them good and often is a sign of healthy practice. I know the limits of my knowledge and skills, and am not afraid to ask. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask either! 

I am having a little bit of a difficult time transitioning out of the prescribed role of “new grad.” How long after you start practice can you still call yourself a new grad? I think it stops around 6 months. (Feel free to disagree with me, and let me live in the land of the new graduate for a tiny bit longer!) How long until people just really expect you to know your shit? 

After surviving my first 90 days, I was entirely consumed emotionally with the work I was doing. One of the most difficult transitions is not only the full weight of independent practice, but when working in an environment fueled with high-intensity emotion, it is very hard not to carry that home. After those first three months I felt like I was so completely exhausted, not only because I was working insane hours very far from home, but also because taking in my patients’ stories, holding them, and being present and processing them was more draining than invigorating sometimes. 

One of my goals for the proceeding 90 days was to start to be able to leave work at work, be able to talk about other things at home and with my friends, and process what I really needed to process emotionally in a different way. This is still an ongoing struggle and goal, but writing about these struggles, the themes of my patient’s lives, and my own ups and downs personally and professionally on this blog have been monumentally helpful in that processing. I still have a long way to go on that front, but it certainly feels as though it’s getting easier.

How do you leave work at work? How do you take in all the hard stuff and be present in the moment and then let it all go? I’m asking half rhetorically, and half seriously. I’m not sure anyone can ever do it completely, but we all develop strategies and tricks for handling it all better. What are yours? 

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