I know it’s exam week for the first and second year students. Not just any exam week, but the very first exam week of the year. The fool-proof signs of haggard students and smell of stress that waffles up from Alumni and Centennial buildings are unavoidable. I remember those weeks all-too-well, a constant feeling of tightness in my face, periods of unprovoked tachycardia, a nearly insurmountable urge to give up sleep to gain more study time.
On Sunday, as I finished up my 15-hour call at 10:00 pm, I realized how much gratitude I ought to have for where I was at that moment. Walking down the dank southeast staircase in the children’s hospital, I realized that even though I was tired, the old stress that used to make me constantly furrow my eyebrows in concentration was long gone. Instead of a drive to stay awake all hours of the night to study, I was going home to sink into bed, satisfied that I had cared for patients that day.
Last year about this time, my husband heard me turn over in the wee hours of the morning and mutter, “Staph saprophyticus” in my sleep. No doubt my mind had not left my microbiology notes even as I slept. Only a couple of weeks ago now, my husband heard me roll over in the middle of the night, but this time, a big, deep, belly laugh came out.
My point? Hang in there, first and second years. This too, will pass. And though third year brings with it long hours on the wards, caring for an actual human being is far more rewarding than correctly answering multiple choice questions on a computer screen.