In the United States July 1st marks the start date for the majority of residency programs. My residency program however starts one week early, a trend that many are adopting. It gives us one ‘extra’ week of vacation prior to the start of our second year of residency. So for all of my friends and the rest of you strangers out there on the interweb, here’s what I’ve learned after my first week of my internal medicine residency.
Not a lot of actual medicine
Most of what I’ve learned this past week is the process of being an intern like where documents are located, how to put in orders, and how to use the phone/paging system. Exciting stuff…I know. It’s everything that you didn’t learn in med school because its the stuff that you can’t be taught in a classroom and don’t really do as a med student. You really just have to learn by doing. So, even though you are going to ignore these words of wisdom just like I did when someone told me don’t stress about the little things because theres nothing you can really do to prepare yourself for it.
Your residents and attendings don’t expect much from you
I was rounding on the weekend with my attending on my third day of residency. He asked me a simple question that any medical student can tell you without much thought. He asked, ‘what is the reversal agent for Warfarin?’. I put my notes in my pocket, crossed my arms, and struck a confident pose and loudly answered, ‘potassium’. Now for you non-medical people, the correct answer we were looking for was Vitamin K. My brain somehow spat out the electrolyte whose elemental symbol is ‘K’. And that’s basically my first week of residency in a nutshell. Looking stupid but being really confident about it.
I fucking hate fax machines
Seriously, why are these still a thing?
And that 80 hour work weeks are exhausting
I guess I’ve never really had a full time job before but this can’t be normal. Your shift might only be 10 hours but you only get to leave when your work is done. Which is why late admissions are the worst. They’re the equivalent of someone sitting down for dinner at a restaurant right before the kitchen is about to close. Except we won’t spit in your food. Probably.
You can still make a little bit of time for yourself
One of my biggest concerns going into residency was the notion that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to continue to exercise and stay relatively healthy. I mean my body can’t be all down hill from here, right? Well if you never worked out prior to starting residency I doubt that this will be the time to begin for you. However, you certainly have enough time during the week to find a few days here and there to do whatever makes you happy whether its working out, playing basketball, reading, or just binge watching Game of Thrones (what a great finale).
Lastly, shout out to the med students
I used to hate the stupid menial labor of med school like finding out if the nurse is aware of the orders we put in or calling down to radiology to find out when our patient was getting scanned. But now I realize that if it wasn’t for you then I would be the one doing it. Every small task is actually tremendously helpful. At least it is for me. And I always trade menial labor for knowledge (yes, believe it or not I’m actually kinda smart. I’m just really good at playing dumb). So next time your resident asks you to fax a hospital to get records just realize that you are going to be that person doing it when you’re the intern. Yeah, sucks to suck