How to Hold On?

CPE is rough. I wanted to be good at it, and I wanted to keep an open mind, but I am really struggling with it. I'm trying to figure out exactly how to make it through this summer. I'm already halfway through week 4 of this 11 week program, which helps a little bit to think about, but in general, I'm tired and troubled by the way that CPE and hospital life have totally gotten under my skin. Those are the thoughts that remain in the back of my head even when I'm at home, hanging out with Matt, eating meals, sleeping...

I find the hospital environment very lonely sometimes, and I feel like I don't fit in. I'm more squeamish than I had thought, and I get disturbed by things that shouldn't disturb me. I don't want to leave the safety of the office, at least not without someone going with me, for fear that I might actually have to encounter things that make me want to throw up or cry.

I suppose that many people before me have struggled with CPE - with getting used to the routine, with pushing personal troubled feelings aside in order to show compassion and healing to people, with feeling anxious over on-calls, with being haunted with hospital images even in dreams - but I feel like I'm the only one who is stuck in the middle of desperately wanting to give up and desperately wanting to prove to the world (and to myself?) that I can endure.


  1. Melissa,
    Your post made my heart race because it reminded me of all the anxiety associated with CPE for me last summer. I, too, struggled tremendously. I'm not in the same boat as you this summer, but I can relate to the thoughts of this post. I wish I had some brilliant advice for you, but I don't. I guess all I want to say to you is that CPE does end; it's not forever. I hope that you are working on being as gentle as possible as you critique yourself and your involvement. You are a beloved daughter of God. Prayers and warm thoughts go out to you from me. I'll be back in Chicago at the end of August. We should have coffee.


  2. The anxiety is the worst part of it all...

  3. Hey kiddo - you're the second person I know doing CPE this summer. My friend Megan is struggling with a lot of the same things you are. Take heart -- you are not alone.

    You're entering a challenging profession, and they are doing you a service to show you one very important -- and difficult -- part of it early on. You are doing God's work, and it is good work. No one ever said it'd be easy, though. :) Praying for you!

  4. Ah, CPE... yeah, I remember doing that one. For what it's worth, everybody feels isolated and freaked out. Hell, it took me fourty five minutes standing outside of a patient's room before I could walk in on my first visit.

    in solidaridad,
    aus Deutschland,

  5. Melissa, I am so sorry to hear that CPE has been such a rough experience for you so far. I am also doing it this summer, but am having a considerably easier time. I hope that your time gets better and that you're able to leave the bad stuff at the hospital...or at least witness some good moments.

  6. Hope you're doing better a week now after your post. Where are you doing your CPE unit? Mine at Rush University Medical Center was intense, difficult, but ultimately rewarding. Prayers that the same may be said for your experience in the end...