28 Jul The Stitches of Final Year
There’s something meditative about suturing. Positioning the first bite, puncturing the tattered skin and fascia, pronating your wrist to feed the needle through.
So, whenever the opportunity has arisen in my Emergency Medicine rotation, I’ve taken it. My interrupted sutures have never been so aesthetically pleasing.
But, there’s an ulterior motive behind my frenzy for suturing. It’s a welcome distraction from the constant cycle of thoughts that’s been on my mind since the start of this year: my final year of school.
I honestly dismissed Imposter Syndrome prior to January. I thought that once you reached the fourth year of med school, you were armed with this knowledge base and unequivocal self confidence in your diagnostic ability. This delusion was probably because I was always ducking behind residents, observing more senior students, or deferring to consultants during my patient assessments.
Very soon, I’m going to be it. This mess, who binge watches Sailor Moon on the weekends and who rarely wears matching socks, is going to be in charge of patients in less than a year.
I know I’m not the first final year student to wrestle with this notion, nor will I be the last. And, as fun as it is to self deprecate, I know how hard I’ve worked. My friends and I have studied, skipped sleep, sacrificed physical and mental health, sobbed about exams…
All to reach this end – those two letters tacked after my name on a certificate. The gravity of joining this profession isn’t lost on me. Annoyingly enough, I remind myself about the responsibility I will have very soon.
But, as terrifying as coming to terms with being an actual doctor is, so too is it a privilege. I repeat this sentiment to myself as I breach decorum and hug an elderly woman who’s just been told that her son has about a day to live.
And again, as I crouch down to a four year old with reactive airway disease and hand her a blue popsicle (her favorite colour).
And, today, when my Dad joke earned me a smile from the man who had been bitten by an iguana – and who I’d just neatly sutured up.
Seeing anyone at their most vulnerable, their most scared, or at their most “in pain” – these are privileges. It’s an honor that people place their trust in you and hand you their children, their bodies, and their pain with undying faith.
So, to anyone else struggling with this famous final year medical student Imposter Syndrome or any other feelings of inadequacy: you are good enough. You were good enough to reach this path, good enough to pass the prior years, and you will grow into your ability as a clinician.
Try trusting yourself a little more – like that poor man with iguana spit in his arm trusted me.
Image credit: Latona J.A., Tannouri S., Palazzo F., Pucci M.J. (2018) Fundamentals of Sutures, Needles, Knot Tying, and Suturing Technique. In: Palazzo F. (eds) Fundamentals of General Surgery. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75656-1_3
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