The start of intern year was not only the first day of me practicing as a new doctor, but it was also the first day of me regularly driving as a new driver! As a typical New York City person, I did not learn to drive as a teenager and would have probably never bothered getting a car if I did not leave NYC. So, when I learned that I would be moving to North Carolina to join the Duke Family Medicine Residency program, I knew that my non-driving days were over!
Paralleled experiences of being a new doctor and a new driver
In many ways learning to drive has paralleled learning to practice medicine. During the process of getting my driver’s license, I heard many times that I needed to learn the rules of the road, pass the road test and that I would not REALLY learn to drive until after I got my license. In a similar way, I learned the basic skills for practicing medicine (communication, physical exam skills and building differeial diagnosis), passed my exams, and graduated from medical school. However, residency has been where I have learned the most about what it means to be a doctor on a daily basis. So July 1, 2021 marked the beginning of me putting everything I learned into practice.
Challenges of doctoring and driving for the first time
Both tasks have required me to step out of my comfort zone and do something that was new and often scary in the beginning. There have been challenges – driving and doctoring ones alike! Like navigating head in parking spots and managing overnight call. Sometimes, I have faced both kinds of obstacles at the same time, like having to do an hour-long highway drive in the dark to go take my STEP 3 licensing exam!
Becoming a good doctor/driver
Over the last few months, I have seen myself grow in confidence as a doctor and driver. There is still much I need to learn and practice, but a lot of the initial nerves are gone. I no longer feel anxious every time I get on the highway or walk into a patient room for the first time. My hope is that as I move towards the end of this intern year, both driving and doctoring will feel less like challenges I need to overcome and more like parts of who I am as a person.
Kristin Williams is a first-year resident with the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program. Email email@example.com with questions.
Editor’s note: Duke Family Medicine residents guest blog every month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Family Medicine Residency Program, the Department of Community and Family Medicine or Duke University.