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How to prepare for and maximise your year as an intern

🕑 4 minutes read


Written by Dr Edmund Wee and Dr Tian Bai Qiu, 2015 Interns, St Vincent’s Hospital

Internship marks your progression from student to medical practitioner. It’s an exciting experience that is very rewarding, though it can be stressful at times as you learn to deal with new responsibility.

So how can you prepare for internship? What did we wish we did more as a medical student?

  • Revise your basics, and be familiar with common calls / pages for the intern. Marshall and Ruedy’s “On Call” is a very helpful book to use
  • Follow an intern on a cover shift and see how they respond to pages
  • To prepare for a specific rotation, get a handover and find out what you need to know to do your job well
  • Ultimately, keep in mind that a large part of internship is about gaining experience. No amount of textbook preparation will allow you to be completely prepared so don’t get overly stressed by this
So how can you survive and make the most of internship?

1)   Be organized, and write everything down

  • A large part of your role as an intern is to keep track of patients and tasks that need to be followed up for them.
  • Never be sloppy with your documentation of patient notes – this will protect you if anything goes wrong!
  • You will need a system; write everything down in lists and prioritize jobs.
  • Always carry a pen and paper and have a clipboard or folder with forms that you need on the go (radiology, pathology, consent forms).

2)    Be nice

  • Patient care is implemented as a team, including but not limited to nurses and allied health staff. Always be polite and respectful and remember that everyone has an important role to play.
  • Your life as an intern will be much easier if you have a positive working relationship with those around you.

3)    Grow from your mistakes

  • Internship is a learning process, and mistakes are inevitable. Avoid making excuses, pushing blame or being consumed by guilt. Apologize, take responsibility and move on.
  • Remember that the important thing about mistakes is learning from them.

4)    Always know your limits and ask for help

  • Internship is about safe practice. You are not expected to work completely independently. Always ask questions and clarify plans with your registrar if you are in doubt.
  • Many situations will be new to you – never be ashamed to ask for help!

5)    Keep learning

  • Remember that in every job there are opportunities for you to learn new skills. Be proactive and volunteer for new procedures and tasks. You will learn more than you expect from doing all the ‘grunt work’ for your patients.

6)    Maintain balance

  • Always make sure you take time to eat at work, and try to leave on time if possible. Spend time maintaining relationships with friends and family. Keep up interests outside of medicine.
  • Take care of your physical health. Take holidays and breaks when you can and so avoid getting burned out.

7)    Remember to appreciate your job

  • At the end of the day, take a step back and remember that your job is amazing. Medicine is meaningful, stimulating and fun work – even as an intern you can support patients at their lowest moments and experience the satisfaction of seeing them recover and leave hospital.
  • Don’t ever let stress or fatigue get in the way of remembering this.

And make sure you enjoy you’re internship!

* The information contained in this site is general and is not intended to serve as advice. DPM Financial Services Group recommends you obtain advice concerning specific matters before making a decision.


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