The Calm before the storm. Tips for New Interns

It’s June kids.
Time to ditch the short white coat, grab the long one and start being a doctor.

There’s lots of helpful tips written by residents out there.
Here’s a quick list of tips from the perspective of an Attending in Internal Medicine who primarily does outpatient work.

1: Focus on the “WHAT” and the “HOW?” 
For the short term, focus less on the “WHY.”

    As a new intern, your job essentially is to get things done. So constantly ask your resident/attending/nurses “What do I need to do?”. Keep an organized list.
   Since you’re  in a new hospital, also ask “How do I do this?”. If you don’t know how to get it done, don’t wait to figure it out. Ask right away and get it done.
   As you get more comfortable and efficient, then you’ll be able to ask the WHY questions.

2: Be humble.

    Yes, you’re extremely smart, you’re an MD/DO now and you’ve crammed your heads with tons of esoteric medical stuff which most people (even residents and attendings) have forgotten. But realize, you may know a lot of medicine, but taking care of patients is completely different. Humility will leave your mind and days open to learning and endless possibilities.

3: Try and have fun!

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t going to be easy and there will be moments and days where your patience will be tested. There will be moments where that polaroid smile while seem like an insurmountable task.Nevertheless, try to see the glass half full and find the joy and humor in the craziness that is Internship.  Have fun for your own sanity, the sanity of your team and most importantly for your patients. If you enjoy what you do, patients will sense it and believe in you!

4: You are an incredibly important person in the team.

    Sometimes it may seem like your presence isn’t that important and you’re simply a cog in the machine. But to that very ill patient (in hospital or in clinic) you are critically important. You are the physician that’s going to spend the most time with the patient. You are the first contact when things go bad. You are the eyes and ears for the senior resident and attending.

5: Residency is a PIT STOP in your life

Life is like a Nascar (or Formula 1) car race. It’s a long race, hundreds of miles, it’s relentless and it goes fast.  Residency is just a small fraction of your life. It’s like a pit stop in automotive racing. The race may last a few hours but cars spend only a few minutes in a pit stop.

But if you know anything about car racing, teams work tirelessly to make those pit stops perfect. In fact, races are often won and lost in the pit stop.
You should approach residency the same way. Realize it’s just a small part of your life, but strive to make it perfect, and work tirelessly at it to win the bigger race.

6:You are being evaluated by everyone

    This is the era of 360 evaluations which means everyone has a say on how you are doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen excellent interns and residents rotation get derailed (Despite being an excellent doctor) by negative evaluations by medical students, nurses, residents, sub-specialists etc. Be a professional towards everyone!


That’s all I’ve got for now. Hope this helps.

Good luck to all the new interns! You’ve made a great career choice and it’s only going to get better!


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