Written by Dr Laura Raiti – Paediatric Resident Medical Officer
Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’ve completed your medical degree and after years of studying, you’re finally ready to start your career as a doctor.
It’s a big step, and it’s natural to have mixed emotions before transitioning into a new phase of your life. Your internship year is no exception. It will be exciting and rewarding but it can also be daunting.
We spoke to Dr Laura Raiti (Paediatric Resident Medical Officer) about her experience as an intern, and asked her to share the highs, the lows and any advice she could offer to future interns.
What is your best memory from internship?
Probably my emergency rotation. It was when I felt most independent as a doctor. I got to see patients, assess them, formulate my ideas, draw on the theories I’d learnt at medical school and really take ownership of their care before I presented them to someone more senior.
It was a pivotal moment for me, as it was the first time the reality of my internship matched up with the idea I had held for many years, around what being a doctor would be like.
What was your biggest challenge during internship?
Day one can be challenging for a variety of reasons. For me, I was on my anaesthetics rotation and I was the only doctor in the pre-admissions clinic for the afternoon. As such, I had nurses constantly asking me to review and sign-off on ECGs. The sheer anxiety of having to make the final decision for the first time and sign off test results as a doctor was quite overwhelming and a bit of a shock to the system. It certainly forced me to shift my mindset from being a student to a doctor pretty quickly (although it’s not as scary as it sounds – there is always a consultant available either in person or by phone that you can check with if you are unsure about anything).
Advice to future medical students
Ask for help
Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help. This is something that you’ll get told a million times before you start your internship but there will still be moments that you’ll catch yourself and wonder whether you should.
Everyone knows that you’re the most junior person in the room and will expect you to ask questions – they’ll probably be concerned if you don’t!
Be resourceful when asking for assistance. You don’t always have to go to your registrar or your consultant, utilise the knowledge and expertise of those around you in different areas i.e. if you’re having trouble getting a drip in, ask for some help from the ED nurses. They’re amazing and will likely be happy to walk you through it. Your ward pharmacist is another excellent resource for you and will help you as you start charting medication for the first time and writing at the time, quite complex discharge prescriptions.
Build a wide support network
Your internship year can be challenging so it’s important to build a strong support network at the hospital. Be kind to everyone you meet and make the time to get to know your colleagues across as many departments as you can. It’s only going to improve your overall experience and may even help to open doors for you later in your career.
Throw yourself into every rotation
Internship is your chance to experience many different aspects of medicine. Make sure you throw yourself into each rotation to build as much experience as you can. Whatever area of medicine you decide to specialise in later in your career, this is your opportunity to round out your skills and establish a good awareness of what happens across all of the different specialty areas.
Finally… enjoy the journey!
Always remember that it is a privilege to practice medicine. You get to go into work and make a real difference to people’s lives each and every day. Don’t worry about where you are doing your internship, or if you didn’t get accepted at your first choice – you’ll have an amazing year wherever you are and whatever you do.
* The information 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.