Thursday, June 30, 2011

As sand falls through the hourglass...

It's June 30, and another academic year is coming to a close for thousands of residents across the U.S. 

This time of year has fascinated me since my residency days.  Certainly, most programs have graduation events for their senior residents, but they are typically earlier in the month of June.  So, June 30 itself comes and goes with little recognition.  Sure, hugs and handshakes may be traded and "congrats!" will be shared, but the patients still need care, the work still needs to be done.  In those small moments of talking with patients and making decisions, writing orders and checking up on labs, the significance of this last day is easily forgotten.  The end of the day inexorably comes, pagers are turned in, sign-out given - and, just like that, it's over.

I suppose I'm especially contemplative this year as my last day nears as well.  Sure, I've had my "last day" as a resident and fellow here, but I always knew I was coming back.  Now, I'm preparing to leave for good.  At each stage of my life, I've always wondered ahead to what the next milestone will be like - and my final exit from this hospital is looming.

I caught a rerun of the series finale of "Scrubs" this past weekend.  J.D. wants his last day at Sacred Heart to be special, magical almost, yet he knows that the deep meaning of his years there can't be captured in the few available moments of what is just another busy day for everyone else.

As the episode ends and J.D. prepares to leave for the final time, he fantasizes that he is walking through the hallway to the exit doors flanked by staff members, colleagues, and patients he's known during his time there.  Of course, he ultimately exits through the doors alone, but he's taking the lessons and camaraderie of those relationships from his time at Sacred Heart with him.

I'll walk out of the door of my hospital in a few months, and I'll have no more fanfare than today's residents when they leave their residency training sites later today.  I am confident that none of us will let the anticlimactic nature of those final minutes take away from the rich experiences and memories that we have accumulated.

A part of me, though, wishes that J.D.'s fantasy could be true for all of us.

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