On March 17, 2020, our institution was designated as the nation’s first dedicated care center for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our patient population would now be only individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and required hospitalization, either from our emergency department, or from other hospitals within our network. My experience with COVID was, at that point, scarce and limited to discussions with my senior colleagues and the case reports from China and Italy.
December 2019, the month a mysterious viral outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, will be forever remembered as an important moment in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives, and strained the healthcare system and economy like never before. At the heart of the pandemic in New York City, we faced the worst. Originally from Mumbai, India and a Grant Medical College alumni, I moved to New York City for chief residency after completing my Internal Medicine Residency from JFK Medical Center, University of Miami. In this blog I describe my experience as an Internal Medicine Chief Resident working in New York City, sharing the difficulties encountered and the lessons learned.
Since I started in high school, I have been away from my home to study. At 13 years old, it was hard. Now I realize hard moments prepare you for great achievements along the way. The question is how to pass hard moments: for some of us, it is difficult to see the end prize in the beginning, because the road is multifactorial. However, the purpose of the journey is learning patience and endurance, not the destination itself. All I ever wanted was to do good, affect good, make a positive impact. We all should start walking with purpose, with good intentions. The destination may be different than initially thought, but it might be even better than our dreams.
I grew up in a modest family in rural India, watching people in the underprivileged strata of the society suffer from diseases that could have been easily treated if they had access to state-of-the-art healthcare. Experiencing the devastating consequences of health issues firsthand left an indelible mark in my mind. That lasting impression and a lifelong fascination with science is what led to my passion and ambition for medicine.
As I sit in a dear friend’s apartment in New York, basking in the nothingness of vacation, I realize that the time left in the intern year of my Internal Medicine training can no longer be measured in months. It has been quite the year and I am part trepid, part excited to transition into a senior role in the next academic year.
This is not the first of such transitions for me, and neither was Match Day 2018 my first dance with the NRMP. I first moved to the United States in 2016 to begin an Anatomic Pathology/Clinical Pathology (AP/CP) residency. I remember putting all I owned into two travel bags – more like haphazardly stuffing the bags – and getting on the long-haul flight to Chicago, to begin the next phase of my seemingly never-ending medical training. I was excited and grateful to be part of the next group of exchange visitor physicians.