I’m going to be blunt. Intern year was hard. There were days this past year when I left work after a hard shift and found myself unexpectedly in a variety of positions — tearful on the stair climber at the gym or exhausted eating leftovers over my kitchen sink. Sometimes you don’t even know why you feel this way. Patient acuity, the draining hours, sometimes it all adds up. All of the stressors of medical school compound with increased responsibility, even more hours, and boom, you have intern year.
But, there are so many wonderful moments, too. Waking my husband up at 3am to celebrate after getting my first successful intubation was priceless. Seeing your patient get downgraded from the ICU and eventually stepping out the front doors of the hospital made the long hours worth it. Sharing cookies with the nursing staff on holidays makes you feel like you have a family-away-from-family. Looking back, I learned SO much in just a short period of time. I almost can’t believe I did it, or am doing it, I should say. Intern year is time for growth and it’s well known for having its challenges.
But that is why I felt so compelled to write this article. Because intern year repeats. Every year, a new generation of sparkling new interns will join us. Often, the weeks leading up to July 1 are filled with the fear of the unknown, wondering how you can prepare, if you’ll succeed, or how’ll you’ll even survive. At least that’s what I found myself thinking just 12 brief months ago.
I am by no means an expert. I’m technically still an intern for the next few weeks. But in each of these tired, post-shift intern year moments, after letting all of my emotions release and coming to terms with myself, I felt empowered to share some insightful tidbits with the world. Feeling like I’d conquered some unsolved mystery, I’d pull out my phone and draft some catchy prose. Something that the medical community would appreciate, something to normalize the ups and downs of medicine. I never pressed send, publish, or tweet. With more than 90 percent of intern year complete, and PGY2 within my sights, I’m left with a rather nice memoir of the year that is notoriously k