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Welcome to Intern Year: Tips for Success

It's that time of the year. July 1st is almost here and hospitals around the country will welcome in their new interns. To those starting on the wards as interns, this series is for YOU! We're sharing advice from SheMD authors on how to not only SURVIVE but THRIVE during your intern year. Wishing you all the best next week. You CAN do this!

The new academic year is upon us, and with it comes brand new interns like you! For me it was a little bit of excitement… and a lot of fear. Taking care of patients is a noble but daunting task.

Here are some of my top tips to help you survive intern year.

  1. Be on time. That’s easy enough, right? Creating a routine in the morning can help you be on time and prepared for rounds. Check the chart for new updates, jot down the important questions you want to ask, pre-round, and show up ready for rounds (a few minutes early).

  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re new! You’re allowed to not know. The first few months of intern year are information overload. Luckily, you will have senior residents looking out for you. Worst case scenario, you can always say “I will look it up after rounds and get back to you.” Never ever lie, because you will either get caught or potentially cause harm to your patients.

  3. Know where to find the information. Download UpToDate and Epocrates at the very least from the app store – these are great apps to quickly read up on a diagnosis or to answer questions about dosing. MDCalc is another good one to quickly calculate scores on the go.

  4. Learn how to use your EMR and do a good chart review. There will be hidden pearls in various tabs and sections of your electronic medical record, including outside records or records that have been scanned in. Trust me, a good chart review is worth every second of digging. Plus, it makes prerounding in the morning very easy. You’ll look great during rounds when the attending asks an obscure question.

  5. Ask everyone questions – your nurses, your radiologists, your pharmacists. Everyone is on the same team. Radiologists are always happy to teach a resident who takes the time to find the reading room. Pharmacists can answer any question you have about medications, interactions, and dosing. And nurses can help you with most anything. Just take the time to ask – it is much easier than trying to do it all alone.

  6. Be known as the do-er. Volunteer to help with everything; you will quickly get a good reputation as the go-to person, which is great as a resident. You want to be the person who knows where to find the answers, whether it is calling a consult, looking up some information, or knowing who to ask.

  7. Get involved. This means participating in research, hospital committees, and committees within your program. You never know where you will end up, and getting involved helps you find opportunities you didn’t know existed and meet people you otherwise may never meet.

  8. Share your worry. If you ever start to feel uneasy – whether you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, or you think something just “isn’t right” about your patient, share it with your colleagues. Your seniors may be able to shed some light and help you resolve the feelings or help you with the task that you find difficult. No matter what it is, put your mind at ease by sharing your feelings.

  9. Know when to say no. Most of my tips are telling you to get involved and say yes to everything. However, there are times when you may feel uncomfortable doing something on your own. Speak up – senior residents will help you if you are overwhelmed. Similarly, if you have taken on too many things, be honest and say that you do not have time. You are human, too. Always remember to take care of yourself.

  10. Remember, you deserve to be here. There will be days that are difficult, times when you feel as though you don’t know anything, moments when you question why you went into medicine. The bottom line is that you deserve to be here. Let me say it again. You DESERVE to be here. We have all been there. Eventually, with patience, it will fall together.

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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series:

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