Residency During COVID-19

I am the young energy, the work hour violator.  I become better than you at inserting central lines and ventilation tubes and delivering bad news  because I have done these things so often this year.  

I stand in your adapted M&M sessions
against a screen of black boxes  

presenting my choices, mistakes, re-earning  the privilege of touching a patient’s neck or chest.  

I mix optimism and realism.
We will get through this together.
My 24-hour mask marks, my scars
remind me what we have survived already.  

I reap the benefit of your surgical training,  of the beaten down indentured servitude
endured by us PGY-question-marks:
I get to make people feel better and send them home.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

A graduate of medical school is technically a doctor. But even PGY4 (Post-Graduate Year Four) medical residents are treated harshly by attending physicians, nurses, and other OR staff, she said, until they become attendings themselves. As a surgical resident, she accepted this as a necessary process of earning trust in the operating room. The constant correction, criticism, and scrutiny increased her capacity to save lives. In this fast-paced pandemic, it was ever more important.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Resident
Listener Poet: Frankie Abralind

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