Today, during sign-off, I made a mistake with a patient’s past medical history. I was hesitant to say it because I didn’t quite remember. But with my tiptoeing and hesitation, my senior who was with me, cut me off, recited from memory the patient’s full ED and hospital course and everything that happened. She then went on to do the hand off for every single patient on the list. All of them. From memory.

As I sat in my silence, admiring her and feeling frustrated at myself, I wondered How would I get there? Could I?

As we walked back, I asked her for feedback. I am a little needy that way and she sensed my frustration. She looked at me and told me not to worry. When she was an intern, her now chief, did the same thing to her.

I didn’t think I could do that either. But now, it’s much easier. It’s just a process and you have to make it your goal these first few months to know your patients. You’ll get there too.

And as much as I admired her from remembering all of her patients, I admired even more for remembering herself. The farther you get from something – even in respect to time – the less empathy and recollection you retain of what it’s like. I appreciate that she did. Because as much as I want to remember for my patients, I also need to remember to be patient for my future self and future interns.

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