Diary of A Young Pro: Kim Hall
2) How old are you?
3) What is your job title?
Resident Physician in Orthopedic Surgery
4) How has the transition been from backpack to briefcase (college to adulthood)?
In many ways, I’m still in the midst of that transition – you could say I’m at “messenger bag” level, part way between backpack and briefcase. In the medical field, the transition to adulthood is often a fairly gradual one. After college, we have another four years of medical school. And then there’s residency, which is a job, but it’s one based in training and continued studies. So I’m currently working as a physician but I am still a student in many ways. Just this year I’ve made a lot of exciting “adult” transitions that most of my friends made 4 or more years ago. I now live on my own, in my own apartment, paying my own bills, getting my own paycheck. It’s not the most glamorous part of adulthood, but I remember the first night in my new apartment – to be in my own place, that I decorated and filled with my own furniture – I couldn’t be more excited. But possibly one of the most interesting things about this transition is that, though in many mays it’s a very slow process, there are a few instances in which I feel like I’ve had to make leaps into adulthood. Medicine can be so odd in that way – in our personal and social lives we’re still very much twenty-something year old children, while professionally we are often asked to be very adult very quickly. These moments come when I have to talk to families about their sick or dying loved ones. Or when we need to decide what to do next in an emergency situation. I’ve never felt more thrown into adulthood, into a life of responsibility, then in these moments. It certainly adds to the excitement and challenge of the transition as a whole.
5) When you were in school, did you imagine your life the way that it is?
By the end of college, I knew that I wanted to go into medicine. I didn’t know that I wanted to go into Orthopedics at that time, but from that point I definitely imagined that I would be “on the medical track” in my late 20s. So yes, in many ways I did imagine my life the way it is now. However, there are often so many unknowns on the medicine track (applying to medical school, matching into residency, etc). I had imagined where I’d be chronologically on the medical track at this point in my life, however I had no idea that I’d be back at Stanford doing Orthopedics. It was certainly the dream, but I don’t know if I ever really imagined the dream would come true.
6) What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced during these transitional years?
Learning in residency is often like trying to drink through a water hose – you take a sip but there’s still so much that can just fly right by. The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been not getting overwhelmed by this fact. In medicine it’s very easy to feel like you’re drowning in information and unknowns, things that you need to learn. I have definitely caught myself in the trap of not reading or not studying because I was paralyzed thinking about the sheer amount of information out there I need to know to become a good orthopedic surgeon. Figuring out how to take that feeling and change it from paralysis into action, into planning and studying one paper, one textbook at the time, is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with. And it’s something that I actively am working on, day to day.
7) What is the best advice you have received from a mentor about adulthood and/or careers?
One of my favorite quotes was one that my high school water polo used to say to me a lot: “Good is the enemy of great”. A lot of people can be good at something, but often people settle for that level of achievement. Never settle for good. Always strive for great.
8) What advice would you give a young professional?
One of the hardest things to remember as a young professional, as a young adult really, is that it’s okay if you feel like you’re not “killing it” right now. At our age we start having peers or seeing others our age who are professional athletes or who are starting their own businesses or who seem to have the time and money to be able to travel the world. It can often be hard to see all that and not think that you’re doing something incorrectly. It’s okay to be 20-something and have not gotten to the mountain top. It’s even okay if you’re not quite sure what you want to do when you grow up. I think I was lucky have discovered what I’m passionate about in college, which allowed me to make decisions about my career path early and go straight through into medical school and then residency. But I certainly don’t think that’s the route for everyone.
9) What is next for you and the next 12 months? Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish? How are you going to accomplish them?
In the next 12 months, I will have finished my first year of residency and be well into my second year. Professionally, my goal at the end of my 2nd year, besides surviving 2nd of residency itself, is to feel more comfortable operating and taking care of orthopedic patients in the emergency department. To accomplish this, I’m going to have to continue chipping away at my studying and reading, and continue to make being in the operating room as much as possible a priority in my life. Personally, over the next 12 months I hope to be able to make it to as many hang-outs/dinners/weddings/ bachelorettes/birthdays/etc as possible, and overall try my best to be there for my friends and family on their special days, even when my schedule isn’t always conducive to that.
10) What makes you special?
In the last season of Parks and Recreation (my favorite show behind Grey’s Anatomy), Leslie Knope (Amy Poelher’s character) goes to visit the new, big start up in Pawnee. On the wall in the lobby, there is a sign with the company logo that states, “Wouldn’t it be tight if everyone was chill with each other?” If I could have any life motto, this would be it. My friends joke that I want everyone that I know to be friends with one another, which isn’t exactly false. My family, friends, and even acquaintances, have all had amazing impacts on my life and each interaction has meant so much to me that I want to be able to share that, with everyone. I recognize that bringing people together has made my life better, so I work to bring others together to overall make the world a better place. So everybody should be friends!