Residency Was My Time to Examine the Variety of the Profession and to Choose My Own Path
‘I realised that I wanted to become a doctor in the 8th grade when I first started learning chemistry. Perhaps it was the teachers who made me fall in love with the exact sciences, so incomprehensible to many, and to realise that it would be my calling. I then enrolled in a science-oriented high school to prepare for university and to fulfil my dream of becoming a doctor,’ recalls Elīna Tauvena, a 2nd year surgical resident.
My story may seem boring, but looking back I can see that I’ve taken every opportunity to try out my dream profession – whether it was simply watching doctors when I met them, or having purposeful conversations with prospective colleagues on Shadow Day. When I shadowed an anaesthesiologist, a profession that was in high demand many years ago, I had the opportunity to witness the great variety of medical professions – there were gynaecologists, surgeons and paediatricians. I must admit, shadowing helped me understand that I wanted to be a surgeon. A dynamic, exciting, and complex profession, and a very necessary one. Holding on to this feeling, I began studying at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) – on the one hand, surgery was my dream, but I also realised that I had to learn about all the other possibilities that were offered here as well. Now that I am a 2nd year medical resident in general surgery, I have understood that it is the right place for me.
I like to learn about the surgical profession step by step. Although the first step of my residency was not free, I do not regret going for it with my family’s support. As of now I can say with a smile that I am studying with state funding. Some might think it's unimportant, but I don't agree, because I have studied and worked with a sense of great responsibility. I would call this the first beautiful victory of my residency.
During these two years, the residency has provided many opportunities for me to learn, explore, research and interpret. Lots of small, but beautiful victories. I have completed every task responsibly and will continue to do so. I am not afraid of long hours, night shifts and responsibilities. I want to help people, and I can already – by studying and working at the same time.
I absorb stories and tips from my seniors that you can’t get from books. I listen to patients and help them to the best of my abilities. I still have a lot to learn to become a good surgeon. I have also had the opportunity to travel to a great many locations within Latvia.
During my studies at RSU, representatives from each regional hospital came once a year to invite students to join them. Everyone gets the opportunity to find out everything about where and how many doctors are needed in various specialties. I learned about Ventspils as a possible place of work at one of these meetings. The North Courland Regional Hospital was very interested in and welcoming towards new specialists. It was therefore not surprising that I responded to their call, and have now made a commitment – I will work and improve my professional skills in Ventspils for the next five years. I will also simultaneously be doing so in Riga since Riga offers dynamism and a larger workload, which I like. It will help me strengthen my existing knowledge and acquire new skills. As a result, I will be able to make decisions independently sooner.
My experience from Riga helps me a lot when working in the regional hospital, I therefore believe that during your residency you should learn wherever possible in order to become the best at your chosen profession. A good doctor, however, is one who is not only perfect in their chosen profession, but is also able to evaluate their patient as a whole.
Although my studies are intense, and being on-call is long and tiring, and most often I just want to get in bed and do nothing, you must find time to do other things that make you happy – be it sports, hiking, reading books or just being with your loved ones. Every day, doctors see both outcomes: the ones where we can help and, unfortunately, also those with a sad outcome. But we must be able to help even in these situations... I therefore urge every current and future doctor to remember to recharge their batteries so that we can go on to help many more patients.