An Ode to Summering…

By Michael A. Gisondi

As I write this post, I am en route to one of my favorite places in the world, Provincetown, Massachusetts. If you’ve never been there, Provincetown is a small fishing village and artists’ colony of 3,364 residents that sits on the very tip of Cape Cod. It was colonized in 1602 and was the site of the Mayflower Compact in 1620. It was a longstanding port for Portuguese immigrants and, still today, young people from Portugal go there to work in the service industry for the approximately 60,000 tourists who visit annually. P-Town, as it is affectionately called, is truly unique – like nowhere else I’ve ever visited. I joke that during my yearly trip to this small town I am “summering on Cape Cod” much like the Kennedys or the Obamas. But in reality, it is simply a pilgrimage of 3,234 miles from Palo Alto, California that brings me great joy every July. It is among my most cherished summer traditions.


Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) brings with it many traditions and a heap of change. The ‘academic year’ in North America begins in summer and sees the advancement of all trainees. New medical student clerks, interns, ‘senior’ residents, and some brand-new clinician educators, too. The July Effect is very real. Time flies by too quickly when on the beaches of P-Town, and it drags like an anchor on some clinical shifts before and after.

But should it?

Yes, everyone is new in July. Yes, it takes 1000% longer to do everything. Yes, we supervisors spend a lot more time supervising. But, my fellow clinician educators, you set the tone in summer. It’s up to you. It can be a catastrophe, if you let it, or it can be a walk down memory lane.

Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. Lean into July mindfulness and gaze at all the newness and beauty around you. Be quiet and present and take it all in. Do you remember being them? I do, like it was yesterday.

I was, at one point or another, The Scared Intern, The Imposter Syndrome Senior Resident, The Very Green Fellow, and The Oh-my-gosh I’m an Attending. Each time, I needed the kind eye of a seasoned nurse, a patient patient, or a supervisor who got it.

The attending who forgave the new intern for Dermabond-ing a kid’s eye shut in July remembered. He was exceptionally mindful, with me (*true story).

And I challenge that of every one of you, to remember.

Close your eyes, be mindful, and remember what it was like. And with the grace of that attending who asked, “You did what?”, find peace with the heap of change that is summer. It’s what makes medical education rich.

I often end my blog posts with the 5 ways to do something-or-other. I don’t have such poetic advice for you this month, its summer and we have no time for that. A quick list: (1) smile, (2) be mindful, (3) remember, (4) spend the extra time, and (5) dream of June.

More importantly, I compiled a short YouTube play list about summer for you… some tunes to enjoy on your drive home if you’re on service this month. You’ll find many à propos, depending on what your day was like. Do you have any to add to the list? Happy Summer.

Gisondi’s July Effect Playlist:

Dedicated to that mindful supervisor, Dr. Ken Zafren.

About the Author: Michael A. Gisondi, MD (he/him/his) is a medical education researcher who lives in Palo Alto, California. He currently serves as Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University. Twitter: @MikeGisondi

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