Growing up I thought that being a doctor, wife, and mother by 30 would make me happy.


I got married in my 4th year of medical school and started an Internal Medicine residency. 

I quit 2 months before the end of internship year. I started a job in pharmaceutical marketing and had a baby boy. His birth highlighted all the problems in my marriage including a poor match with a controlling man. 


By my son’s first birthday we were separated. On my 30th birthday I sat on my porch, cried, and wondered how I had gone so wrong in my life. I was not married, practicing medicine, and my son was with his dad for the weekend. My job was fine. My son was a source of pride and joy, but I was not fulfilled or happy. 


I got fired, a devastating blessing, which motivated me to reapply to the match. Eleven years after graduating medical school, I restarted residency. Could I fail again? My son was 9, and he would remember if I did.


The first month I could barely breathe or talk I was so nervous. 


Rounding would expose how much I did not know. I felt bad that my patients did not get a better doctor. When I had left medicine, we wrote in charts. The computer system was horrible. I lost 3 times more notes than I wrote. I was near tears on a regular basis. When I left the hospital I did not want to go to sleep because I would have to return the next day to be tortured again.


BUT I went back!


The third month I had the same attending as I did on day 1. She said “I was not sure you would make it, but you are doing fine today.” That was a turning point.


I learned a lot, cleared a lot of cobwebs out of my brain, and connected to my patients and colleagues. Three years later I finished and got a job. I am three years at my job and happier than I ever remember. 


Failure is just a lesson. Get up. Try again. 


By my son’s first birthday we were separated. On my 30th birthday I sat on my porch, cried, and wondered how I had gone so wrong in my life. #resilience Share on X


Lisa Hirsch is a primary care physician practicing in Orangeburg and Pomona, who can be followed on Instagram.


Lisa Hirsch


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