With trembling voices

THREE pre-residents1 came to the call room yesterday. They introduced themselves with trembling voices. One used to be our intern. The other two were from other prominent schools. They were to go on duty with my team. They seemed intimidated, as pre-residents usually are, considering that they find themselves in a rather precarious, awkward position—halfway between being an intern and an actual resident physician. I don’t blame them.

About a year and a half ago, I remember waking up at 2 AM every morning to catch an early cab ride, so I could arrive at 3 AM and finish charting all my assigned ward patients before my residents even saw the light of day. The goal of pre-residency was to impress, to show off, to demonstrate that I was better than the rest of them—and therefore I could survive residency. It was extremely competitive. Those were never my goals, however. I felt, at the time, that I just needed to be myself: if they didn’t like me enough, then it was probably for my own good that I shouldn’t get into the prestigious UP-PGH Internal Medicine training program.

But by God’s grace, I did. And I’m blessed, grateful, and perhaps just a little bit bogged down—in a good kind of way.

I saw them again this morning, already sweaty from the humidity of our overcrowded ER. I hope they emerge out of this phase of their lives more in love with Internal Medicine, and all the thinking and analyzing and charting it entails. Let the pre-residency begin. People don’t call it the Hunger Games for nothing.

Also read: On-preresidency.


  1. New doctors, usually recent medical graduates, applying for the 21 slots for residency in our training program. ↩︎

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