After a year in clerkship and graduation comes your internship year! Yes, this is it! This is one of the transition stages of your career as a physician. So, I prepared here your guide to medical internship as you enter the world of clinics. You may have a pinch of anxiety within you by now or a slight panic attack that is waiting to burst! It is normal to feel that way, butdon’t dread it! It will be one of the most memorable years of your life!
When I got matched at my chosen internship hospital, I was really happy! I get nostalgia every time I walk along the corridors of that institution as if it is welcoming me nonchalantly. But just like you, I had a lot of questions in mind. Will everything turn out okay? And all the unnecessary doubts in mind. But after a year in the program, I can finally say that I LOVED IT!
Every hospital will have its pros and cons, so choose the hospitals that you are willing to commit into for a year of experience. Once you are matched, everything will definitely breeze in swiftly until the time comes that you are to prepare for your board examinations. Yes, time will fly by fast but within that internship year is a year full of learnings, realizations, and decision-making.
Engage with people
On your first days, you will feel the hype of wearing your white coat. You will get to see your patients, your senior doctors and the rest of the medical team. The first few days of internship will really be about getting to know your style as a doctor, the areas of improvement, and the likes. But more importantly, you will get to engage a LOT with people.
Talk to your patients and learn about their stories. Know the nurses in your ward, the personnels along the corridor, the doctors you are with… talk to them and engage with them. You will be shocked about the amount of knowledge you will get from other people — not only in terms of the medical field, but generally in life.
I had a lot of talks with my patients in the outpatient department when I was an intern, or even during E.R. calls. They tackle their life stories with you, and share their feelings and all. It’s the most rewarding moment of becoming a doctor — to be able to reach out not only in physical/medical terms but also to know what’s up with the person as a whole. So, first on your guide to medical internship is this: learn to engage with people. You will learn a lot from their stories.
Keep the communication open
A lot of messages, a lot of calls, basically a lot of communication is needed inside the hospital. Do not assume everything is passed clearly on the other end. It is better to confirm twice or thrice rather than just having assumptions. This will make your life easier. You won’t forget about your tasks, and the follow-ups would not be delayed. It will always be a win-win for both sides, too! as both work would not be jeopardized by succeeding tasks.
I had my fair share of lessons-learned along the way with my colleagues, too. And from there, I realized the need to follow things up, confirm when you have done something, communicate if there should be follow-ups for the next day and so on. It’s all about good communication, and good working habits.
Take each day as an opportunity to learn
Once you are in your duty field, you have to have a clear mind. See the purpose behind your moves, all your works, and the reasons behind the patient’s management. Remember, the best way to learn is to know your patients. Your learnings from your clinical rotation would become an additional lifeline once you get to your practice! That being said, take each day as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourselves a lot of questions. Be inquisitive.
We are now at the information age, and a lot of medical resources can now be read online and offline. If for some reason you really can’t understand a concept behind a patient’s management, then you ask or confirm with your residents/attending. Have an open mind when you ask questions and receive answers. They may give you a lot more information than you think you can absorb, but always be grateful for the additional learning!
Prioritization is key
In your internship, you will learn how to prioritize tasks. And I really mean PRIORITIZE. If I have something I have to share as part of your guide to medical internship, it is what I have learned way back my Internal Medicine Rotation from my resident— prioritize the needs of the patients; do not delay. A delay in their medication (because of lack of orders in the chart) could lead to unintentional increase in the blood pressure of your ICU patient, or forgetting to have that one patient’s blood extracted could delay the management all-together.
You will likely get exhausted by the new information and work load you receive, but that will make you stronger. You see, wisdom comes with experiences. So, take every learning curve towards your advantage. I actually made daily planners you can use for free where you can jot down the tasks you should prioritize, the appointments you have for the day or even the meals you are about to eat! Chem them out here
Take your breathers
It’s fine to get your snooze mode once in a while — get a day off during your from-duty days, pamper yourself, cook your heartwarming dish, read your favorite book, sweat your way to the gym, watch your saved shows on Netflix, or have a dinner date with your friends! As a matter of fact, a big chunk of surviving medical internship is catered on how much you rest and recover!
Furthermore, as you go along, you will build friendships you didn’t know you will form inside the hospital. Despite the demanding job, you will be surprised by the times you get to hang out with your co-interns and seniors! Take your breathers and see a fresher perspective to bring out your A-game the next day!
See the bright side of things
Indeed, medical internship can be really demanding. You may miss some special occasions here and there, or even miss out on your Christmas or New Year celebrations at home, but as I look back… I do not regret that year of medical internship I had with my chosen hospital. Even if I get to spend my Christmas or New Year in the hospital, I was surrounded by loving colleagues, doctors, and personnels who were all-smiles whenever we came across the hallways.
It’s fulfilling to be of help to the patients, to be a source of their laughter with simple conversations, and even be a source of inspiration for them to go on with their lives despite the pains and hardships. Becoming a physician is a calling that you will progressively understand and love. It will bear fruits of your labor. And in due time you will be rewarded by your compassion as you walk your journey to become a full fledged physician.
I hope that this guide to medical internship helps you as you get more lessons and rewarding insights from it! It’s a long way to go but every step of the way will be a significant part of your journey. So, just do what you can and love what you do!
Have any thoughts to share? I’d love to hear from you through your comments!