“I quit residency.”
Three words that many physicians couldn’t ever imagine coming out of their mouth, but for me, I say it all the time, usually with a smile on my face. I was a year and a half into my family medicine residency and decided it was enough. My decision mostly revolved around the birth of my son. My husband (a resident in the same program) and I planned to have a baby and even arranged childcare for our newborn, but when it actually came down to handing my six-week-old baby to a nanny while I sat at the hospital for 12 hours every day, I just couldn’t do it.
We struggled with the decision for a very long time and discussed it extensively with family, friends and colleagues. Ultimately, we decided to do what was right for our family.
The strange thing was that our main concern was not about finances, or missing clinical medicine; it was the feeling of leaving behind what I had worked towards for the last ten years. It was as if I wouldn’t ever feel fulfilled if I didn’t finish residency.
And now that I quit, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, I despised residency. I hated the long hours; I loathed clinic; I dreaded call. In residency, I was not happy. It was a means to an ends, but to what degree of dissatisfaction was I willing to go to meet that ultimate goal of becoming a board-certified physician?
I am finally free from the torture that was residency. I let go of the pride of finishing what I sought out to do. And now, I am happier than I have ever been.
I know my decision is not for everyone, and I admire the working physician moms who are pumping breast milk three times a day and seeing a full clinic. I respect each individual’s decision and am not judging, but for me, everyday with my baby boy is a reminder of what happiness truly is.
And for those wondering; all that time in college and endless studying in medical school, I don’t regret one bit of it. I met my husband in medical school, and we absolutely loved those four years of our life. I may not be fulfilling what I sought out to do but whatever path I took led me to where I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful.
There are moments when I question my choices and my future, but at this time, I know I’m in the right place. So if you’re debating a major life decision or are dissatisfied with your current state, I encourage you to think about what will make you happy. Put yourself first (or your loved ones) for a change.
Constantly being reminded of our own mortality as physicians, we know life is too short and making a change is worth the risk in order to be to be truly happy.
The author is an anonymous physician.