On May 25th of 2021, I walked across the stage in front of family, friends, and a class of over 260 peers, ecstatic to celebrate the commencement of my career as a physician. On that day, letters were added to my name declaring that I was now qualified to go out and practice medicine! But what did that really mean? Was I really a doctor? Part awe and disbelief, part legitimate and utter uncertainty. I didn’t have any close role models as the first doctor in my family—especially ones that looked like me and could illustrate the coming processes for me. How would I reconcile these conflicting emotions?
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!
Music has always been a constant companion throughout my life. For my first resident blog, I thought I’d share some of the songs that have meant a great deal to me as I start my medical career.
As I transition into second year from my first year of residency, I’m also visited by the one-year anniversary of the loss of my sweet grandmother, Selwa Azzam.
Never in a lifetime could I have imagined beginning residency in the midst of a global pandemic. The year 2020 displayed the delicate balance between life and death, the fragility of the U.S. and global health care systems, the deeply rooted infrastructure of racism in our country, and the contentious political landscape in which we live.
One year ago, two significant events occurred in my life that were quite the opposite of each other. Last year, I discovered during The Match, like many current graduating medical students around the country have, where I would be for the next three years. But also, the world around us changed forever due to a global pandemic.
As a medical student, I went to the gym almost daily. Even if it meant reviewing lectures on the treadmill or rescheduling a study session so that I could make a quick spin class, exercise was always a priority for me. The gym provided me a space to improve my physical health but also served as a stress reliever and social outlet.
I did not match at the No. 1 program on my Match list. Match day is a pivotal moment in every medical student’s path. In their last year of medical school, students apply to and interview at residency programs in their specialty. Each student makes a list of programs in order of preference with their No. 1 program as their top choice.
For decades we have known that social circumstances such as poverty, structural racism, unstable housing, poor access to healthy food, unsafe environments, and lack of education are major drivers of health. During a pandemic these drivers are amplified.
As a resident, there is limited time away from rotations to spend with family and fulfill my roles as a husband and father. It has been especially difficult to find safe and responsible activities with my family due to the COVID-19 pandemic.