Tarun Jain, MD
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, PGY4
Residency is full of uncertainty.
By the middle of my third year, I had come to accept this fact, whether I was dealing with an erratic call day or contemplating long- term career prospects. Regardless, I had some sort of vision for myself in 2020.
Like it did for so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic threw those plans in the shredder.
In the hospital, I found myself busier than ever, struggling to keep up to date with a disease that seemed to be changing daily. While the din of residency had previously left me relishing time to myself, I was missing chances to spend time with old friends and meet new ones.
Yet life kept moving forward. My lease was still expiring, and I still had to move. Deadlines for research conferences, fellowship applications, and interviews loomed over me. In some ways, the pandemic didn’t change things at all.
In this sense, I consider myself quite lucky. I have my health, the support of loved ones, and a wonderful family that I have found in my residency program.
Throughout this pandemic, I have learned several lessons that I try my best to hold to — although I’m not always successful!
1. Be forgiving. As a part of the House Staff Association and as
a chief resident, I have had the privilege to view the hospital and medical school through different lenses. Uncertainty is not exclusive to residency, and neither is the fear or frustration toward others that can come with it. Sometimes — out of necessity — decisions can be made with an incomplete picture, and they are often not malicious. That being said, it’s also important to:
2. Take a stand. The only way for any meaningful change to occur is to point out when someone crosses a line, intentionally or not. Otherwise, the same unhealthy behaviors will continue, and the situation will continue to worsen.
3. Ask. Especially with the pandemic, so many things seem to be on hold or out of reach. Even though something might not seem possible, it never hurts to take a chance if you have an idea. It’s surprising what doors a single email can open!
4. Remember why we’re doing this. When the pandemic first started, many medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty put themselves out of their comfort zone and volunteered for the front lines. It’s an honor few others have to be able to be a part of so many people’s lives and to have the opportunity to help improve this chaotic situation.
2020 was a crazy year, and 2021 has had its share of surprises as well. Still, there are silver linings in each challenge, which at least keeps things interesting!