Tips to survive and thrive during your internship year

— 8 min read

Written by Dr Thomas Carins – Intern year 2015

Congratulations, medical school is almost over. The final semester of medical school is one of the most enjoyable – very few stresses, no real exams, upcoming holidays and looking forward to finally getting paid.

There are a few things that I wish someone told me to make the transition easier, here are a few tips:

1)    Contacts and research

This final semester is a good opportunity to make contacts or start on some research in a career that you may be interested in. University of Melbourne students will have the vocational selective – a great chance to collect some data for a paper and get a reference for a future career.

2)    Courses

Studying doesn’t end at medical school! A lot of future jobs require you to have further qualifications so now is the time to start researching what you need to do. For instance, most of the successful interns who received jobs as residents at the Royal Children’s Hospital had started their graduate certificates in Paediatrics during their internship year. If you are interested in a career in surgery, there is the Graduate Diploma in Surgical Anatomy that you can do in HMO2.

3)    Surgical courses

Some of you would have heard advice from previous doctors to sign up to the surgical courses ASAP as it takes years to get a spot. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has now changed the
structure of enrolling in these courses and you can no longer go on a waitlist. Spots in the courses now open up three times a year and you can’t do most of them until PGY2/3. You can also sign up to the mailing lists to hear updates if you like.

4)    AHPRA registration & Provider numbers

It took an extraordinary amount of time for Medicare to process applications for provider or prescriber numbers this year. A lot of people didn’t even have them when they started. This meant that you couldn’t refer any patients to external specialists, order any tests externally, or even sign any scripts! This makes for an annoying start to your internship if you have to plead with more senior doctors to do your scripts. So put your applications in for this ASAP. Furthermore, you have to obtain a separate provider number for each hospital you work at. For example: if you rotate to a country hospital, you will also need another provider number for that hospital.

5)    Income protection

You are your biggest asset! If something happens that means you are unable to work, all this investment in yourself is useless. I would strongly recommend getting income protection, the earlier the better! You can lock in agreed values and rates for the rest of your life, which works out to be cheaper in the long run, especially when the assessment is done whilst you are healthy and young.

6)    Indemnity insurance

Hospital indemnity insurance doesn’t cover you for everything. It’s free for interns so make sure you’ve signed up to at least one of the companies and get some help to choose one.

7)    Enjoy your holiday

Internship is a long tough year. Don’t stress too much over the break and just enjoy the time off. You need to recharge during this time. All interns get a forced three-week leave in January at the end of internship. You also get another 2 weeks off sometime during the year depending upon your roster.

8)    Get a hobby!

Seriously, you need to think about something other than medicine. Make sure you have something to look forward to. Although stressful and tiring at times, internship is a great year. The amount of knowledge that you accumulate even within the first few weeks is tremendous. A lot of final year medical students are very concerned about not knowing enough – don’t worry you’ll learn!