How are we almost at the end of another year? It seems like just a short time ago that I was reflecting on 2011 and contemplating my "non-resolutions" for 2012. I really wish that life would just SLOW DOWN already. I also wish that I wasn't on call on New Year's Eve for the third year in a row (grumble grumble).
Looking back on the year, overall I would have to say that it was pretty good. I plugged along with my work and training, and of course finally picked and was accepted into a fellowship program. I made some time amidst the busyness of work to do things for myself, including getting back into running (albeit transiently) and traveling to new places. And there were no major disasters, which always helps make for a good year. It would've been nice if 2012 had been marked by a great romance, but we can't have everything we want in life, so I won't complain (too much).
Here's a breakdown of how the year went in the five areas that I identified as priorities for 2012:
Becoming a better doctor: Overall, my confidence level and skills have gotten better over the last year, although I'm still periodically plagued by overwhelming self doubt*. Working (often alone) in the ICU and running solo codes has definitely helped me to be calmer in difficult situations and has improved my ability to deal with ridiculously sick individuals. In terms of independent learning, I've gotten more disciplined with my studying, as I'm spending more time in the evenings studying and making better use of the occasional downtime at work. I'm not yet at Royal College preparation level, but I'll get there (soon). I've also finally gotten my Royal College study group together, and although we've only met three times, we're working effectively and being consistent with our practice sessions, so I think the group will work out well. I think I'd give myself a B+ for this.
Preparing for my future career: Much to my surprise, this was the year that I ended up deciding to go into hepatology and to do my training locally. I wouldn't have predicted this at the beginning of the year, but I'm very happy with how things have worked out. In the time since the results were announced, a lot of senior physicians have approached me with ideas for my training/research/future career directions, so I'm starting to establish the connections that I need going forward. And I've had a week at home to read in one of my main areas of interest (palliation), which will serve me well in developing my training and research programs. Definite A in this category!
Connecting with friends and family: This is probably the area where I've struggled the most over the last year. Making more time for work/self care has meant less time for friends and family, and so I haven't maintained all of the connections as well as I would have liked to. There have also been some pretty significant changes in my friends' lives - sickness, new relationships, moves, babies - that have made it even harder to see them very often. Maybe a C for this?
Taking care of my health: This year was the first year since starting medical school that I've made some significant, although not always lasting, changes in my diet and exercise. I've done a lot of meal planning and cooking over the last year, which has resulted in far less takeout and overall healthier eating habits. I also did a fair amount of running and got close to being able to run 5 km, which is reasonable progress for a recalcitrant couch potato during one of the busiest years of training. I didn't stick with it once the cold weather hit, but I at least demonstrated that I am still capable of running and even of enjoying it in the process. I think I'd give myself a B.
Experiencing life deeply: Um, yes. A+. In the past year I've traveled to New Orleans (twice), been on a cruise, and made a last-minute trip to Chicago.
Oh yeah...I almost forgot that I also went to Niagara Falls, Niagara-On-The-Lake, and the Bruce Peninsula***. No wonder my financial adviser starts weeping every time we talk about my debt load. But it has been wonderful to see so much of the world in such a short period of time, and I wouldn't trade any of my experiences over the last year to have less debt, even if I could. A+ indeed!
On final analysis, the good definitely outweighs the bad over the last year. While there have been struggles, none of them have been life-changing in a negative way or have lasted longer than a four-week ICU rotation. If 2013 can be as good a year, I will consider myself lucky.
*For the established physicians, does this ever go away? And is it just my perception, or is this a much bigger issue amongst female physicians than male?
**Even though my trip was over two months ago, I still want to write a post about the Field Museum in Chicago, as it was my favourite day of the trip. And I have pictures of dinosaurs!
***Apparently I never did get around to writing a post about the Bruce Peninsula, despite having lots of lovely photos. It was beautiful. You should go.