Transition to ‘Dr.’ stirs anxiety

By Allison J. Shale, M.S.
June 2, 2013

Transition to ‘Dr.’ stirs anxietyA few weeks ago I wrapped up an intake at my internship and the client’s mother turned to me and said, “Thanks, Dr. Shale!”

As I awkwardly corrected her, reminding her that I’m not quite a doctor yet and still a student under supervision, I realized that this could be one of the last times I would need to provide that correction. This nearing transition from student to doctor is a weird stage; I’ve waited and waited for the time to come but as it gets closer I realize how scary it is to actually be done with graduate school.

My passion for the field has certainly grown over my internship year, but so has my fear of this life transition and change in title.

As someone studying psychology, I find myself wondering where this fear is coming from. I have (literally) been counting down the years, months and days until graduation; this is no time to get cold feet.

Despite the obvious challenges of graduate school, my years at Loyola were happy ones filled with amazing friends, a wonderful husband and honest and caring mentors. I’m realizing that my fear is less professional and more personal: How I will manage without all of these people just footsteps away?

As I identify that fear, I see that it is strikingly similar to the fear I have experienced during many exciting life changes – on the first day of college, at graduate school orientation and even as I got ready to walk down the aisle on my wedding day. With this next change come some very life-altering questions – Where will I work and live? Big city or suburb? Hospital or community mental health?

But the biggest question is will I be as happy as I am now (albeit a broke, over-tired, complaining graduate student)? The short answer is that I know that things will work out, just as they always have. That’s not saying things were always easy, but I know that ultimately I will end up where I am meant to be.

The hope is that reminding myself of this is enough to keep the fear from overriding the excitement, because really nothing should take away from FINALLY being able to introduce myself as Dr. Shale.

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