Dr. Daniel Koerber

As a medical student, I remember looking up to PGY-1 resident physicians – from the outside, they seemed to have their lives together and were so confident managing complex patients on their own. As a fresh R1, I realize now that I didn’t appreciate that many of them were coming to a new hospital, with a new set of responsibilities. Having lived in Ontario for most of my life, including undergrad and medical school, moving to Alberta has been a significant adjustment for me.

Inevitably, living in a new city has certainly been isolating. Coming from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, I decided to purchase a home in the Edmonton area. As a result, I found myself returning home to an empty house after work, which has been  a challenging aspect of residency for me. I have taken on more responsibility and pressure, without the same support network.

Beyond this, the hospitals felt like foreign ground. I often found myself lost and needing to stop and ask for directions or asking medical students how to do basic tasks on an unfamiliar EMR. That made it  challenging to maintain a demeanour of confidence as the on-call resident physician. When you are not familiar with your tools, the culture or your surroundings, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and start doubting your capabilities.

All these factors made the start of residency quite challenging for me. I’m glad to say that as time goes on, I’m adjusting and that things have gotten easier. After one month of residency, I’m starting to feel more confident. I’ve found the culture here to be very positive, from supportive nursing colleagues on the units to my caring, friendly co-resident physicians. The upper years and staff have been incredibly supportive and I’ve noticed that my overall satisfaction has significantly improved on a day-to-day basis. Needless to say, I’m excited for what’s to come.

I know that in the end, this experience will inevitably make me a stronger person and a better physician. While change can be testing, I am ultimately grateful for the opportunity to complete my training here in Alberta, where I can gain a new perspective from a different health care system, with different patient populations and different perspectives surrounding the art of medicine. I have come to realize that I too have a role to play – to raise perspectives that have been emphasized during my training outside of Alberta. For instance, Ontario has an exceptional focus on antimicrobial stewardship, which is an angle I am eager to bring forward in discussions surrounding patient care.

Overall, this experience has boiled down to a couple of simple take home messages. If you are new to your program like me, know that you are not alone. The transition is a difficult one, but I know that you too will become more comfortable and confident with time. And for those learners who continued at the same university for residency, keep reaching out and supporting out-of-province learners.  We are so grateful to be welcomed into your social circles, especially during this challenging new phase of our lives.

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