Ashlee Starr PGY1’s First Year Residency Experience

Ashlee Starr PGY1, Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you feel that your feet aren’t quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting “- David Bowie 

During the first month of residency, my director, Dr. Deheer, sent the residents this quote. I think it describes the first year of residency perfectly. I was questioning 90% of the decisions I was making. I still (2 months in) don’t feel like my feet are touching the bottom so to speak, but that’s how I learn. Midnight calls when no one is awake to answer my texts or verify my treatment plan is when I have to trust my training.

I put four years of undergraduate training and four years of medical training into this. I have to trust those eight years were more than adequate. Residency is the time to put what I know into practice. And what I’ve learned is that the majority of the time my gut instinct is correct. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely! But each of those mistakes have taught me a lesson and made me a better doctor. 

The first year of residency is similar to the first year of medical school but the stakes are higher. It feels like, once again, you are drinking out of a fire hose. There is so much to learn the first couple months of residency that I didn’t even think about as a student. I had a new state to adjust to and navigate, multiple EMR systems to learn, figuring out how to dictate a surgical note, and so much more that I needed to grasp in a matter of days. It has honestly been so much fun, but it has been a lot of hard work as well. I have had my fair share of sleepless nights on call already, but it has all been so rewarding. The comradery I feel with my coresidents is going to build friendships that will last a lifetime. The patients that have thanked me for all the work I have put in to make them feel better reminds me why I’m doing this. 

Nothing changes from graduation to the day I started residency except for the fact that I now have “physician” on my badge instead of “student”. Nurses, other doctors, and patients have a higher expectation for me now. Many don’t even know I’m a resident, so they expect me to be their doctor even though I still feel like a student in many ways.

There is nothing quite like residency. Every day is unique and brings its own set of challenges that you get to overcome and grow from. You can’t really prepare for what residency brings, however, the preparation and extra work I put in as a student is still paying dividends in residency. Put in the time, have a hunger to learn, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! 

Interested in becoming a podiatric physician?  Apply now!