Graduation Day With the Appropriate Jitters

With graduation day comes all the jitters, and realization that the real work begins.My fingers and arms shook as I hugged my classmates prior to walking for graduation. Not only was I juggling family and friends in town and the nerves that can bring on, but I also was trying to deal with these strange emotions I was feeling. I was incredibly nervous at Match Day, because I knew my future was about to be revealed. However, today – Graduation Day – the nervous energy felt a little different.

I was about to be given the privilege of caring for people’s medical needs. People were going to call me “Doctor,” and then trust me to help them through things. Patients were going to show up and breathe a sigh of relief when I, their MD, showed up. ME. Is this really happening? The position of being the physician comes with great responsibility, and I realized something as I greeted my faculty and classmates prior to walking. I wasn’t shaking because I was excited to be a physician today; I wasn’t experiencing just excitement.

I was shaking because I was appreciating the responsibility level I was about to have, and it scared me.

Is this a bad thing? I thought about it for a while, and as I took some NSAIDs to ward off the headaches I normally get when I complete big things (Step exams, Match Day, MCAT), I decided it wasn’t.

We SHOULD be nervous and appreciate the gravity of holding a patient’s medical care in our hands. We SHOULD understand that it is a huge responsibility, and with this responsibility in our head, we should always try to do our best for our patients. They deserve it. They trust us to do that as their physician.

I made it through graduation without crying too much (I cried my eyes out at Match Day), and professors I really admired hooded me. My two-year-old shouted, “Yay, yay, yay Mommy!” from the stands, and it was fantastic to hear and experience.

I hope I never forget what a responsibility this is. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget the nervous feeling I had prior to walking.

ToddlerMamaMD is a just-graduated fourth-year medical student who aspires to have an academic career. One day, she hopes to teach medical students, residents and fellows, live near the ocean and ski slopes, and write and publish novels.