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The Little Tree That Got Me Through Residency: A Doctor's Story

It’s sparse. It’s a little lopsided and there are only enough lights to cover the front of the tree. The bow is made from old ribbon and the skirt is made up of old curtains that hung up in one of my first apartments while I was in med school.

This was my tree while I was a medical student and resident. I didn’t have much money and I didn’t have much time, so this was my tree.

Why do I still have it? At this point, I could certainly buy another tree. A nicer and bigger tree, perhaps. I could buy more lights to put around this tree or spruce up the ornaments to make it look better. But I choose to keep it just the way this is.

Me as a Resident

I keep this tree because it reminds me of the Christmases I had to work and the Christmases I couldn’t see my family. This tree reminds me of long residency days when I was tired, exhausted, and with little holiday spirit. But this sparse, one-sidedly lit tree never failed to brighten even my darkest days, welcoming me home no matter how late or bidding me farewell no matter how early the shifts were.

I keep this tree because it reminds me of how much I appreciate now being able to spend more time with my family and be able to do the job I adore. It also reminds me of a time when I sometimes questioned if I would make it through, and if everything would be alright. 

So, even though I could now get a better tree with better decorations and a real tree skirt, I choose to stay with this tree. 

The holidays are for a lot of things. Gratitude and reflection are among them. Don’t you think?

Happy Holidays,

Dr. Jen

Dr. Jen Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician, Associate Professor at Rowan University, TV health expert, and video creator. Dr Jen likes pizza and french fries (in moderation of course) and she has a free health newsletter that you can sign up for here. Follow her on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

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1 Comment

Rod Dorsett
Rod Dorsett
Dec 17, 2023

You ignite a flame 🔥 of sight in everyone you Touch. Just as much as that Tree 🌲 ignited those darkest of moments endured by You. Keep Shining 🌞 …


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