In her final post to the graduation blog, the newly minted Dr. Jenny Rowland describes her graduation experience and shares what's next for her as she continues her travels down the path to becoming a physician healer. Congratulations Dr. Rowland...we'll be here waiting for your return.
The Road Still Ahead
I will always remember walking across the stage to receive my PennMed diploma with all three of my children by my side, tucking themselves into my arms, burying their heads in the folds of my graduation gown, whispering loudly to me that they’re “starving.” I will remember the look on my children’s faces… the sounds of cameras flashing… the feel of the diploma in my hand. This day feels every bit as good as I always hoped it would – maybe even better.
So, what’s next?
Some things I know. Next year I will pursue my Transitional Year at Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where I live with my family. After that, I will train to be a radiologist for 4-5 years at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. And what happens between now and the when I start practicing as an Attending, will be an accumulation of my best efforts and intentions. Sometimes I will feel pressured. There will be studying- lots of it. Sometimes I will feel pulled in multiple directions. There will be bedtime stories missed and school concerts seen through the lens of a second-hand account. Sometimes I will strive to be “better;” other times I will feel content with being “good enough.”
Some things I don’t know. I might get breast cancer. I might not. I have had a prophylactic mastectomy, but there are no givens. Should I get sick, or if at some point things just don’t work out the way I’d hoped, I know it will not be because I chose the wrong path, or because it was never meant to be. It will be because life happens- sometimes unpredictably, sometimes unfairly. But, with these uncertainties, I take comfort in knowing that there are always options and I know I will continue to choose my paths deliberately- with consideration and purpose.
So, what’s next after the graduation gown is returned, the champagne bottles are empty, and the relatives have gone home? The road ahead - starting over, making new friends, learning new roles, accepting new responsibilities, proving myself again. Just like before, the road ahead will be hard, long, and exhausting. It will continue to be expensive. More sacrifices will be made. There will be many uncertainties. But, what I do know, is that I’ve made it this far. And, although I can stop going down this road at any point I choose, I still want to keep going. I’ve realized that one of the greatest satisfactions in my life is becoming what I only dreamed I could be.