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Updated: Feb 19, 2018

On a bright and unusually warm fall morning, it hit me that I was almost halfway done with my residency training! It must have been something about the warm sunshine that got my endorphins going and daydreaming about life over the past year. I did it; I was in residency, learning how to be a doctor. Anyone who has gone through this process can tell you how rewarding of a feeling that is. As excited as I was, I also suddenly felt so lost. After years of structured courses and rotations, I now had just 18ish months left of a “curriculum” to follow. I have done exactly what I’ve been told to do and followed all the checklists that I’d been given. College ✓ Medical school✓ Start residency ✓ Everything I had wanted for so long has finally happened, but I found one huge problem: I no longer had an advisor telling me what to do next.

At the time I was sitting in a coffee shop, post-call and exhausted, waiting for some work to be done in our apartment so I could go home and sleep. In this sleep-deprived and uninhibited state I asked myself that exact question, “what is next?” My first answer was fellowship/job hunting, but that felt so…obvious.

I started putting in some serious thought about the feeling of pure joy that I get when I’m with patients, playing golf, laughing with my sisters, or being with my husband. I thought about where it comes from, why it happens, and how to make it happen more. After all, who doesn't want to wake—no, JUMP— out of bed every morning?! With 10 inches of snow on the ground, I couldn't escape to my happy place on the golf course, so I did what I do best, and started to study. I studied social media, professional athletes, personal mentors, people who inspired me. What I found was more valuable than most lessons I learned in school; I found that I, too, can do what they do. I can play more golf, be a mentor, start a blog, apply for chief resident.

I sat down and made a checklist of all the things that I wanted out of this phase of life. While fellowship is on there, I found the focus being very different from in the past. It wasn’t full of specific, mandatory tasks like “pass the boards, submit letters of rec, volunteer at the hospital.” Instead, it looked, and felt, like life.

Here it is, in all it’s glory, my new checklist*:

  • Get back into golf

  • Write more...Blog?

  • Interview and record my grandmother (more on this to come!)

  • Volunteer

  • Book a vacation for my next vacation block (somewhere warm)

  • Start looking into fellowships

  • Clean out my closet and declutter!

  • Find a new fitness routine that I can actually stick to

  • Visit more parks

  • Spend more time with family

  • Keep up with Pediatrics in Review articles

*subject to change


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