My Bucket List Summer
After Match Day, I felt pure happiness. I had just been given the honor of joining a neurosurgical residency. I had also officially committed to one of the most arduous training paths in all of medicine. Throughout my five acting internships this year, working tirelessly as part of each neurosurgical team, I developed a true appreciation for the immense responsibility that would soon be mine. Reflecting on those tough months, as well as the demanding interview season, I thought hard about how I was going to spend my weeks celebrating this incredible accomplishment and getting myself best prepared for residency.
Matching into a residency program changes my life dramatically. First, entering a program in Syracuse, N.Y., means that I will soon be moving away from my family in New York City for at least seven years, which undeniably influences how I have planned my summer. For many years to come, spare time will be short. I considered all the things that were on my bucket list, and I wondered how I was going to start crossing them off. Of course, I have also been careful to balance these extracurricular activities with ongoing academic responsibilities.
I had late March to mid-June so I needed to think carefully about my extracurricular priorities. Travel, basketball and golf are all things I love, so I set aside plenty of time for those activities. I also booked a backpacking trip through Italy and Switzerland. Some of my friends scheduled their weddings and honeymoons within this time period and others booked cross-country road trips. Given the tight schedule, I planned my trip to allot time to spend at home with my incredible family and to move to my new home. I joined a local basketball league and played golf with my friends and family as often as possible.
I have also scheduled several brief, affordable trips, including a week at the AANS Annual Meeting in New Orleans. For students, this meeting is a great opportunity to invigorate one’s passion for neurosurgery, reconnect with residents and to catch up with the teams you met during the acting internship and interview season. Neurosurgery is a very small world and keeping connections alive is vitally important. If you do not have research to present, there are opportunities to get involved in the meeting through the Young Neurosurgeons Committee, such as their sponsored Top Gun Competition and the AANS-sponsored Marshal Volunteer program. Additionally, I have made time to work on pre-existing research projects, but I have also familiarized myself with some of my residency program’s research opportunities so that I can hit the ground running.
Whether it is neurosurgery-related or working on a craft (e.g., carpentry), I believe one should always continue learning for pleasure. I have continued to read neurosurgery texts. I have picked up books on finance and opened up my chef’s knife set numerous times. Ultimately, my goal is to do things that inspire me, so I can maximize my time and feel happy about it. Now, I can say with confidence that I will be walking into residency feeling inspired and completely rejuvenated, ready to tackle the trials and tribulations of a neurosurgical residency.
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