– Riverside University Health System
“I don’t understand the need for these protocols; they seem more like inefficient roadblocks,” I sweetly yapped at the well-meaning lab managers, merely doing their best to keep me in line. As the words fell out of my mouth, I realized I had heard them many times before. These were sentiments uttered by wiser more senior residents, usually shared with other hospital staff, often of the nursing persuasion.
Added to my urgency as a research-year resident is the importance I place on the scientific education and training of my young lab team, comprised mainly of two highly promising undergraduates. I cannot explain the wave of sadness that washed over me the day I needed to send one home to complete additional unforeseen paperwork. Or the day I realized they were struggling from lack of access to a few specific resources, something I immediately hustled to fix.
Neurosurgical residency offers unparalleled training in clinical and surgical skills, but also in negotiation and time management. Improvements I had thoughtfully made in these areas over the past few years, combined with a steady focus on pushing forward multiple projects, seem to have made me actually fit in less well in the lab, but this is a trade I will happily make. After all, swimming upstream and against the tide, or settling in where I do not naturally belong, have resulted in some of the best decisions I have made to date.