First off, congrats on the most epic accomplishment ever and joining the Doctor Club! You finally get to rock that long white coat with the deep pockets! But, to whom much is given much is required as the old saying goes. So, with the upgrade in titles and fancy coats, privileges of this exclusive club include: long hours, developing a dependency on caffeine or chocolate, never ending trail of paperwork, envying your friends weekend excursions as you grind at the hospital BUT the feeling of helping others in their most vulnerable states is the most rewarding feeling. Let me not scare you, I admit this job can be stressful but, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! As you embark on this journey, trust the process and even though the learning curve is S-T-E-E-P you will SURVIVE! You are probably a mixed bag of feelings right now as July 1st approaches, so I think it only appropriate to pass along a few pearls of wisdom to help you survive the trenches of intern year.
- You are officially the Doctor—no longer the student
First off, do a happy dance—You are officially Dr. (Insert Your Name). Secondly, embrace what it means to be officially a doctor. You are no longer Student Doctor (insert your name). The training wheels are coming off. You are responsible for patient care. You are responsible for reviewing/ordering EVERY lab/imaging/notes/medication etc. on your patients. You can no longer hide behind the “my attending/resident will follow up on x-y-z patient” You are now the physician responsible for managing patient care. While pointing this out may seem trivial now, as a senior resident (in T- minus 2 days) I have seen interns including myself not understand or fully embrace this important point at one time or another. As an intern it’s easy to become overwhelmed but, you must remember you are responsible for executing patient care and ensuring you keep abreast with everything with your patients and never assume someone (i.e. attending/upper level resident) will “catch things” you miss or keep up with all the changes with your patients. But, don’t worry too much now, their will be someone there to catch you if fall or miss things especially early on. Just get in a habit of taking responsibility for actions and managing your patients.
- It’s okay to be scared
It’s TOTALLY okay to be freaking out now. I mean you are a few days out from embarking on your first day on the job as a doctor! Its okay to panic a little 😊Plus, we have all been in your shoes and remember the anxiety of our first code or fluid resuscitating our first septic patient- so these feelings are totally normal. As you progress through your intern year, you will learn so much and you will see your initial fear subside as you become more confident and gain more experience.
- Ask questions
Please ASK questions!!!! Never be too scared to ask questions. You are an intern and no one thinks you know everything if anything at all. Not to be offensive but, this is intern year and you are essentially a ball of unmolded clay and it’s the residency program job to mold you over the next 3-7 years to be ready to become an attending. So, ask as many questions as needed. This is how you L-E-A-R-N.
- Humble thyself
Yes, you are now a doctor BUT you are still an intern which means you have a long way to go in your journey of learning. Do not come off as if you are better than people on your team. Do not act like you know everything because you don’t. Don’t be brash towards your attendings and question their logic /thought process because you read one article in the New England Journal of Medicine and now feel you are an expert on a topic they have been covering for 30 years. Just humble thyself and be accepting of suggestions, criticisms, etc. to better yourself as a physician. Remember, you will be at this program for 3-7 years so don’t start off on a bad foot, as it will be hard to erase the stain of a bad impression.
- Be Kind to All
Can’t stress this enough! Your support staff are critical to you especially in the early stages of your residency. We all have stories of how nurses or technicians have given us valuable insight/suggestions which saved our behinds and ultimately improved patient care. So, if your nurses or support team are telling you something, LISTEN don’t IGNORE them. Bottom line, build a good rapport with you nurses, administrators, technicians, respiratory therapist, cafeteria workers, etc.
- Don’t forget to eat and take care of yourself
Stop and smell the roses! As a physician, you must learn the art of balancing work life with your personal life. You can’t be a good physician if you tired and run down because ultimately this will have a negative impact on your ability to provide good care to your patients. So make time for you family, significant other and friends. Find time to exercise, meditate/pray, shop, browse Netflix—you catch my drift still find time to live life.
No explanation needed. Grind until you shine!