As I walked the hallways of the emergency room, I could hear the distant sounds of a dispatch radio, "47 year old M, cardiac arrest. En route. ETA 10 min". A couple of months ago I was reading about these cases, my notes on advanced cardiac life support flashed before my eyes. My attending doctor pointed towards the double doors and in came the patient, unconscious, surrounded by a sea of paramedics, nurses, and family members. Crying, wailing, vitals signs, the patient's past medical history being recited by paramedics-all of them intermixed with the beeping sounds of machines like a carefully orchestrated musical. Controlled chaos. After a couple rounds of CPR, shocks, medications, we had to intubate. I prepared the tools.
My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I held the laryngoscope in the wrong hand, rookie mistake. I couldn't quite get the mouth open or the laryngoscope in the right spot, second rookie mistake. I struggled for seconds, which seemed like hours. I looked up at the doctor wanting to wave a white flag. Was I really ready to do this? With lots of guidance, I completed my first successful intubation and in the end we saved the patient's life.
The most memorable moments are both exhilarating yet terrifying. As a student, I've learned a lot of medicine this year, but I've mostly learned about the importance of making mistakes - learning from them, reassessing flaws, and ultimately growing as a person. New situations are intimidating - career changes, relocations, new business endeavors, new procedures (haha) - but the best way to tackle them is head on. Overcome the fear of making a mistake, looking silly, being wrong. The truth is that the best lessons rattle your world, they might even hurt your ego a little, and that's OK. The importance of failure comes in pondering what went wrong and adjusting accordingly. That's not to say you plan for failure, but be flexible in your approach to your goal. Commit to learning from mistakes, do not dwell on them, and you're assured to grow.
Besides this, I've learned the value of work-life balance. There's a common saying among students, "Eat, sleep, breathe medicine." It goes to show our dedication, but I've come to realize that this strict dedication is also unhealthy. Yes we commit to our work and patients, but we must also commit to our own health and happiness. In the pile of deadlines, assignments, projects, it is important to focus on our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing as well. So, while medicine takes up most of my life, I've learned that I must also make time for other activities I enjoy - a good book & a cup of coffee, traveling, hiking, and yoga. Yes work-life is important, but take time to enjoy yourself and spend time with loved ones - parents, siblings, significant other, pets.