There's an infamous scene that plays out in the minds of all budding physicians. It goes like this: It's your first day of medical school. The stern dean approaches your class at the podium, and says, "Look to your left, look to your right. One of the three of you will not graduate."**
Times have changed. Medical schools spend a lot of time and money admitting students now, and don't like to flunk anyone if they can help it. So we didn't get that talk.
On my first day of medical school, we all sat, fresh-faced and nervous, in the auditorium that would hold our tushes for countless hours over the next year. The Dean of Students approached the podium beaming, and said "Some of you can't believe you are here. You're certain that someone is going to come in and tap you on the shoulder and say 'We made a mistake, you don't belong here.' But you all deserve to be here."
I've thought of that moment often through my career. I certainly felt that way, on my first day of medical school. I certainly felt that way again as an intern, as a newly minted second year resident, seeing my "own" patients in clinic during training, and as a young new attending physician. Sometimes for significant reasons, sometimes for just more of the daily grind.
So I've been an attending for almost 4 years now. When will I stop having that thought?
**I can't remember anymore - is that scene from House of God?