First Failure

After almost 6 years as a learner in Medicine,  I have received my first failure. 

A few weeks ago I wrote a surgical theory exam. This exam was annoying and difficult both to wrap my mind around as well as to study for. The exam is not designed for Obstetrics and Gynecology residents, but in an attempt to align us more with other surgical specialties, our program enrols us in the program for this exam. Since it’s not designed for us, it’s difficult to study and prepare for, and since it’s not required that we actually pass the exam, our program doesn’t make a huge effort to help us adequately prepare for it. Regardless, we all want to pass and most people do. 

Except me. I got my results today, and I was “unsuccessful.”

I have had failures in my life – some bigger and more consequential. However, this is the first time I’ve failed at something in Medicine. 

Why should I care that I failed an exam that I didn’t even need to pass?  I made a decision to prioritize my family and my health in this pregnancy over preparing well for this exam. Regardless, I did spend some time studying… And I think I hoped to actually pass. 

For my entire medical training I have maintained that I can do this “Mommy in Medicine” thing well. I struggled endlessly with feelings of guilt that I was only ever a mediocre mom and a mediocre medical student/resident because each role was competing with the other. Up until now, my kids have survived and have done okay, and I’ve always done okay in my assessments and very well in my clinical evaluations: there has never been a reason for me to believe that something was really suffering. Until now, that is. 

Now I am weeks away from having my third baby, all under this illusion that I can do it all. But maybe I can’t, and I find that reality upsetting and worrisome. Life is only going to become more difficult with anther child and the increasing demands of my training program.

 My confidence is shaken and I’m just not sure I can pull this off anymore. 

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13 thoughts on “First Failure

  1. Don’t let one failure shake your confidence! Failure is pare do the course when studying and you should just take it in stride.. I’m sure you’ll do great at medicine and are a great mother already 🙂

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    • Thanks. It’s hard to feel like the reason you fail at something is because you are working hard to be good at something else – and feeling like other people don’t have the same pressures.

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  2. You are already good at medicine, and even though I know you CAN do Mommy in Medicine, there is no doubt that it’s a lot of pressure. Cuddle with your sons tonight, or eat something nice, or just have some you-time… and then tomorrow you straighten your feathers and you walk proudly. You’re a doctor, and a damned good one at that, and an unsuccessful test does not change that!

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    • Thank-you. I guess I’ve just been feeling terrible all around, with being tired from pregnancy and not having energy to work as hard, play with my kids as much, and be as dedicated as I usually am. I feel like it is a sign that I’m letting things slip.

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  3. Pingback: The Real Struggle – Living with Authenticity

  4. I understand not passing your exam will make you feel inadequate. But as I remember from over 30 years ago when I was having my third child I started doubting myself during my finally trimester. You’re tired and that exam even if it didn’t matter was stressful. Your family comes first as it should. Don’t beat yourself up. I’m sure after the baby is born and your energy starts to return you’ll be back to A’ing your exams.

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  5. Oh Aggie… that really sucks. =( BUT… do not let this make you waver in your belief in yourself. You are WONDERFUL, you have GOT THIS, and this is just a crappy little speed bump. Still, I am sorry you had to deal with this now…

    Much love and respect to you!

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  6. It sucks to fail, but you are not alone. So many surgical residents fail this exam that we often wonder if it’s just a way for the Royal College to make some money. I sure am glad that I did not have to do it because I would have failed… Yet, here I am, a new ObGyn attending…
    Hug your kids, treat yourself to a nice bath and try not to think of this POS exam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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