Does Medical Training Get Easier As Each Year Goes By?

A few weeks ago, my husband completed his first year as a GI fellow.

“Well…How did it go?!” you ask.

If you are asking my husband, he said he felt like he didn’t learn ANYTHING this entire year. (This is a very common response for any fellow who just finished their year, by the way!)

I get why they say that, though. They have so. much. to. learn. that they never feel completely competent. So it’s natural for them to feel like they didn’t learn anything all year.

All they can do is take it one patient at a time, hoping that somehow, they will chip away at getting closer to their goal of being the great physician they’re meant to be.

Going back to my husband, he would look at the first years and wonder to himself, “Was I ever that bad?!” 🤣 Obviously, he learned a ton in the last year!

And if nothing else, there is physical proof of his growth: his hand muscles are bigger! As a GI fellow, he’s been scoping and using muscles that he’s never had to use before. It’s great for me because I like squeezing his hands and enjoying the extra squishness! ❤️

Did It Get Any Easier Between 1st And 2nd Year of Fellowship?

In some ways, our first year in GI fellowship was worse than intern year of internal medicine. In some ways, we have more relief as a second-year fellow.

Ways it got easier:

Now that it’s been 6 years after medical school graduation, we are even more used to the ebb and flow of medical life. Pagers beep are like war drums. Instruments are just part of the decor on your dining room table. Weekends and holidays apart are a given. Never being able to own a nice vase because we know we’ll be moving again is a given. And with the kids becoming older, the more parenting experience we gain and the less their physical needs become.

Ways it does NOT get easier:

He still has so much to learn and that brings him pressure and stress. Personal relationships (spouse, kids, grandparents, etc.) are still the biggest and hardest aspects of our lives. And with the end of the tunnel in sight, talking about where we want to live when training is over is very hard. We will finally be able to choose where we want to live! But instead of rejoicing at this freedom, we actually experience stress while searching for the perfect job for our family.

In My Opinion, There Is No Perfect Stage of Medicine

Because the medical journey is so long and many sacrifices have to be made, it’s easy to think that the next stage is always going to be better. But in my experience so far, once we THINK we know what to expect, life WILL give us a curveball.

(For example, did anyone know that a global pandemic that shut down the world economy would happen, and that we would have to scramble for PPE in the middle of serious shortages so our DrSpouses can come home safely?!)

The best we can do in whatever stage of the medical journey we’re in is to have unconditional love and support for family and keep an open mind that each stage will bring its own challenges.

Life may suck right now because you’re sharing one car and have to coordinate your schedules so each of you can use it. But an example of how attending years can be hard is dealing with aging parents!

No stage will be better than the other.

They will just be different.

It’s Good NOW

In the meanwhile, let’s not hold out on happiness until any stage of the medical journey.

Dr. Cory S. Fawcett said in his award-winning book, Smart Career And Alternative Retirement:

“Tomorrow’s hopes should not steal today’s joy.”


To your strong medical family,