It’s the end of July, the month I had waited all my life for. I spent my first month of residency in the emergency department, and certainly felt a great deal of imposter syndrome. Introducing myself to my patients as Dr. Tribull just seemed strange and the responsibility of actually caring for patients felt like a ton of bricks on my shoulders.
Throughout the month, I had tons of questions: How do I put in this order? Which drug should I prescribe my patient? Am I missing a “can’t miss” diagnosis? My senior residents and my attendings were patient with me and helped me with every question I asked them, but I couldn’t help but feel inadequate at times. I often wondered, “Shouldn’t I already know these things?”
These feelings of imposter syndrome and inadequacy were especially strong during my first failed procedure attempt: an intubation. The situation was messy. I couldn’t get a view of the patient’s vocal cords and my attending took over. I left the patient’s room feeling incompetent, that perhaps I shouldn’t have even attempted. One of my senior residents noticed my change in mood and told me, “Emergency medicine is a team sport. We will help you if you struggle and we won’t let you fail. You’ll get it next time.”
A week later, the day after an Intern Boot Camp session on intubation (very fitting and much needed), a patient in the emergency department needed to be intubated. The same senior resident who comforted me after my first intubation attempt said, “Jenna, this patient needs a tube. Do you want it?” I jumped at the opportunity and this time, it was a success.
Medical school seemed like an individual sport; although I was close with many of my classmates, at the end of the day, I needed to strive for success for myself. I needed to work my hardest so I could learn as much medicine as possible and match with my desired residency. Now that I’m here, I’m learning that “emergency medicine (heck, medicine in general) is a team sport.” My co-residents, attendings, and nurses are my teammates and we’re all striving to win the game of providing excellent patient care.