Elliott Eggan

As I arrive to the resident workroom on Blake 11, the inpatient psychiatry ward at MGH, I sit
down at my desk, open up Epic on my computer, and begin to read through the charts of my six
patients. It’s early morning and I’m the first one to arrive, as I have been for most of the days in
my first few months on Blake. The grey light of early morning streams through the window in the
Chief Resident’s office and I sip my freshly brewed coffee from downstairs at Coffee Central,
clicking on lab results, vital sign graphs, and imaging studies in the EMR. As I peruse these bits
of data, I’m struck by the fact that this is one of my favorite parts of the work day—the reflective
silence in which I can fully focus on each patient, the sense of forward momentum conveyed by
all the results returning and the events of yesterday aggregated in note summaries. There is a
sense of anticipation too, a flicker of nervous energy around what surprises and excitements the
day will hold, though the caffeine I greedily slurp down might be responsible for boosting that
sensation.

At times, these minutes at the brink of the day unfold into moments of surprising introspection, as I slip into thoughts about the field I’ve chosen to pursue and my experience with it, ever so brief as it may be at this point. What do you love about this? I find myself asking. The answers come readily—the endlessly intriguing variation in human behavior, the diversity of interactions I have daily, the control and skill and compassion it takes to find the root of a person’s psychiatric illness and partner with them in addressing it. The stories, though frequently devastating, are also fascinating. The emotions are raw, and the opportunity for healing feels palpable. How far have you come? My quick internal response surprises me. Though it feels like just yesterday that I first stepped foot through the double doors of Blake, I know with certainty that my comfort and confidence has grown in leaps and bounds. My mind no longer races with infinite concocted outcomes as I prepare to address an agitated or angry patient. I can finally click “Sign” on a set of orders without having to quadruple check my work and feel my stomach drop out as I see them become immediately active. I know the pace and the tasks and the responsibilities of each day like a part of my own body now. I’ve even learned some psychiatry, too.

If someone had told me that in addition to all the learning and progress I would also find time to explore my new city, make incredible friends, and even fit in some crucial exercise, I don’t think I would have believed them. I’ve had rejuvenating weekends full of bike riding, beer tasting, and fantastic restaurant adventures. Even in the few short months I’ve been in Boston, numerous close friends have come to stay with me, giving me the perfect excuse to enjoy frequent touristy fun like a quiet afternoon out to the Boston Harbor Islands or the popular Freedom Trail. The best part so far, though, has definitely been meeting and quickly becoming close with my fellow co-interns, who are some of the kindest, brightest, and most interesting people I’ve had the privilege to know. Yes, there have been challenges in these early days and it certainly hasn’t all been easy. But the constant support from the program and my peers, as well as the fascinating learning and the aura of compassionate curiosity that feels present everywhere I turn, all has me more excited now than ever before to become a psychiatrist. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year holds!