Hi Everyone! I’m David, a member of SIOP YI. Today I am posting on behalf of Matthew Henderson, a new clinical hematology/oncology fellow at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio, who was kind enough to share his excitement in his first month in pediatric heme/onc fellowship.
It’s 4 in the morning, and I’m once again jumping out of bed to the beeping from a new pager that I was handed just a couple weeks back. My heart rate quickens as my mind races through the many possibilities of what questions may lie on the other side of this page. Is it another ER physician or pediatrician worried about some aspect of a patient’s CBC, or a stressed parent of a sick child looking for answers in the middle of the night? While I know that my attendings have my back to find the right answers, this is still a very new experience and level of responsibility. My mentors in residency often said that the learning curve during one’s first year of fellowship is the steepest, and I’m sure that my feelings of being completely lost are not unique during these first few weeks.
It’s hard to describe one’s experience as a brand-new hematology/oncology fellow. Through medical school and residency, I maintained what I believed to be a “healthy” level of anxiety, and I often used this to work towards becoming a stronger physician. Now in fellowship, despite some nervous energy, I have tried to maintain a sense of excitement and confidence as I approach these unique set of challenges. This has included the many nights on call, and then somehow finding the strength and caffeine to keep working the next day. Learning to complete a bone marrow aspiration or lumbar puncture with the parents watching my every move. Even spending the night dissecting a complicated treatment protocol, and then watching my attendings easily break it down to simplest language for the parents.
I know that I will need at minimum six more months to even start feeling comfortable in this new role as a fellow.
However, after completing a couple weeks on service, it finally hit me that I am beginning the job that I have been working towards for the last decade. I have started to accept that I may be nervous and lost throughout parts of the day, but I’m ultimately putting myself through this experience to learn everything I can. At the end of the day, I appreciate the privilege that I have been given to take care of these children and their families.