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.