Transitions: The Seismic Shift From Trainee to Attending

The following post was written by guest blogger Matt Hawkins, MD, assistant professor of pediatric vascular/interventional radiology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Training is complete. Congratulations. Finally – we’re finished.  (At least that’s what we’re taught.)  But nothing could be further from the truth. We are simply just beginning. And we have a long way to go. Yet, we’ve come so far…right?

The transition from trainee to attending is exhilarating and intimidating.  Just when we all thought the world might slow down a bit, it just starts to whiz by even faster. New names, new faces, new parking lots, new phone numbers, new paging systems, new cafeterias, imaging protocols, and post-procedure order sets. And even though we knew there would be increased expectations and responsibility, it is something that cannot be understood until it smacks you in the face.

While new streets, hallways, stairwells, and underground tunnels turn us in circles, we are trying to teach fellows and residents the fundamentals of our profession. And oh yeah, we are also enrolling our children in school, finding our own PCPs, reorganizing our finances, supporting our spouse through one of life’s most gargantuan transitions, and spending hours on end looking at Google Maps as we try to wind our way to grocery stores, post offices, and … ummm … hospitals.

Has anyone else experienced this? We are not alone. We’ll keep our heads up and our shoulders lowered. It is a rite of passage, I guess. And every attending that has ever lived will look back at their transition, crack a timid smile, and acknowledge that the shift from trainee to attending is something no one wants to do more than once. But that’s the best part. We don’t have to. We’ll become more patient, more reasonable, and simply better. We were trained to do this. And remember, we’re all in this together.

Tweet the author @MattHawkinsMD

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