Six months into my medical residency, I have grown more comfortable waking up earlier than usual and at colder temperatures. I have learned to embrace procedure and operate on a regularly irregular schedule. Today on my way to work, I watch the fog clear and feel my pulse synchronize with my pace.
I am Sandipan Shringi, MD, a final-year resident in Internal Medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. I am originally from a small town in India. My path towards medical practice began when I was 16 years old. As you will learn, my journey as a physician began dangerously and has taken unexpected paths.
The COVID-19 patient did not speak English, so we communicated using a translator phone. He taught me a few words and sentences so that I could ask simple questions to other patients who shared his native language. “I can’t breathe” were the last words that I could understand before he was intubated. I wondered if he ever imagined that his last words would be spoken to someone who did not speak his language. Did he imagine that he would be taken care of in his final days by someone born thousands of miles away?
As I stepped out of my plane in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I had multiple things running through my mind. Relief was the first thing that came to me. The whole process of joining my U.S. training program had been marred with painful uncertainty due to the pandemic, and yet now I was here. The airport was very quiet that day. It was a clear reflection of how COVID-19 was impacting life in the United States. The road to the hotel where I’d stay for the next few days was lined with empty sidewalks and closed stores.
We were young, happy, in love, and planning for the future. My husband thought that it would be prudent to explore the possibility of furthering our careers abroad to ensure a secure future for our family. He was a banker but also very passionate about farming. I was fresh from university and not yet established, so we decided that I would be the first to pursue opportunities abroad.