The calm before the storm. That is what I have decided to write about, and I suppose the audience best fit for this piece are the thousands of fourth-year medical students, anxiously awaiting rank and match day, and excited to finally be called “Doctor.” The process of becoming a physician is long, exhausting, and daunting. Many of us on this lifelong path of learning with seemingly endless training have found ways to rejuvenate, moments to soak in peace, and methods of finding a sense of calm… beneath, before, or during the storm that is residency. For some, that peace may come from a good meal with friends or family, sleeping in, traveling, prayer, music, or exploring the great outdoors. While I can and do appreciate all of these avenues of revitalization, the latter has become much easier than expected in this beautiful state. At times, it has made the difference between utter chaos and complete calm during these post-graduate years.
As I look back on my 2.5 years of residency training, I think about what makes a desirable training environment. This is a personal decision for each residency applicant, driven by innumerable factors with varying degrees of importance. What I have learned is that you can obtain the skills you desire through most programs in your specialty of choice (granted, some programs requiring a more proactive resident to do so). You WILL work a LOT of hours during your time of training; that is true regardless of where you go. You WILL be exhausted at times. You WILL be overjoyed at other times by the amazing experiences you get to take part in as a physician caring for the health of others. So in addition to finding a clan of people who seem to get you, that you fit in with on interview day, you should also consider the things in your life that motivate and revive you. And if the outdoor scene does something for your soul that is unexplainable and unachievable in other ways, well, then think of Utah in your residency search.
I cannot help but feel blessed to have worked and trained in an area where these outdoor opportunities for soul searching and serenity are at my back door. This compilation of pictures highlights just some that this amazing state has to offer. Within 30 minutes, you can be snowshoeing in a breathtaking canyon, hiking to beautiful alpine lakes, or enjoying a nice book in a hammock over a waterfall. Within just a few hours drive, there are endless national parks and protected lands offering awe-inspiring views. The search for a residency home and the years of training in it are not an easy process. But one decision can be made simpler: if nature and playing in the mountains are your jam, we’d welcome you in Utah for this next step of your journey.
Erin McAdams, MD, is a third-year resident in the Division of Family Medicine who participating in sports, being outside, and traveling.