As a new mother and a fourth-year psychiatry resident, my average day is somewhat different from that of the typical senior psychiatry resident. My day starts at 6:30 a.m. when my 7-month-old daughter, Mckenzie, alerts me to the fact that she is awake and hungry. My next 30—45 minutes are spent feeding her and playing peek-a-boo. After shower and dressing and a 20-minute drive to the hospital, my professional day begins about 8:00 with didactics. The lectures today are psychotherapy for an hour and then play therapy for the next. During the play therapy hour, we take turns pretending to be a young child alternating with being a therapist. So much can be communicated through play, a lesson I hope to apply at home. At 11:00 a.m., we attend Grand Rounds, a 1-hour continuing medical education (CME) activity in which various topics in psychiatry are reviewed by attendings, residents or visiting physicians. These lectures are often quite interesting. Following grand rounds, all residents proceed to Residents’ Council meeting, a time to relax, vent and discuss. This hour is for residents only. Time here is spent discussing any problems perceived by the residents, eating lunch with peers. At this point, I again switch roles and race home to have lunch with and be lunch for my daughter. This is precious time and although rushed, I would not trade 1 minute.
This afternoon is the last on my current rotation working at a community mental health center. This has also been my continuity clinic for the last 2½ years and leaving is bittersweet as I have grown fond of the staff and patients. My first patient is scheduled at 2:00 p.m. She is an older lady who recently had an exacerbation of bipolar disorder due to medical problems necessitating a change in her psychiatry meds. I remind her that this is our last visit and she says, "I know and I have been dreading this." I reassured her and escorted her to the office door. With tears in her eyes, she turned to me and stated, "I love you and I’ll miss you." In that moment, I am reminded of the reason I chose medicine as a profession—to touch the lives of others. Although hearing the words "I love you" from a person who I see once every 2 months in a professional situation may sound a bit awkward, it did not feel that way. The afternoon continues with multiple med check appointments and the occasional no show. My last patient is scheduled at 4:40. At this point, I turn in my dictations for the day and hug everyone good-bye. It is amazing how quickly you can become attached to others.
I am on backup call tonight, so although I’m heading home, my day is not quite over. Backup call consists of acting as junior attending for a first- or second-year resident.
I arrive home at approximately 5:15 p.m. and am greeted at the door by my husband and daughter, who smiles upon catching sight of me as I make her favorite silly face. We sit together and play as my husband tells me about his day and my mother, who graciously watches my child while I’m at work, tells me all the new things my daughter did today. After dinner at 7:00 p.m., I get the first page of the night. The first-year resident with whom I am on call has seen a patient in the emergency room (ER). I can tell from the sound of his voice that he is nervous. He presents the case well, leaving only a few questions in my mind. After discussing the patient, I ask "So what do you want to do?" Together we form a treatment plan and decide to admit the patient. I reassure the resident that he is doing a fine job.
Nine o’clock arrives—that is bath time, a much treasured time in my home, as McKenzie loves a bath. The three of us sit in the bathroom while bathing the baby, who giggles as she splashes water on Daddy. We then play until 10:00 p.m., bedtime. The next 30 minutes are spent rocking and singing my daughter to sleep. The hospital calls are few tonight—one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 2:00 a.m. The house is quiet, everyone is asleep, and I look forward to another full day.