Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Tomorrow the new interns start. Joy.

Now, don't get me wrong, I remember what it was like to start day #1 of intern year. I was on wards. Blue Team. With WW and MC as my co-interns - we had a blast. You form a bond with that first team that no one can take away.

I was very well prepared for my intern year. Georgetown gave us a LOT of responsibility as 4th year med students. We took overnight call, we cross-covered on other 4th years' patients...we were basically interns (we just needed our residents to co-sign our orders). So, my transition to intern year was pretty smooth.

Not so for everyone. Some are overwhelmed by it all. And it is, surely, overwhelming. For the first time, you're being asked to make decisions. You start to think, "Should I give this person Tylenol? Will I throw them into fulminant hepatic failure??" It's a little scary. But, you need to work through it and learn what you know and what you don't know. It's actually more important to know what you don't know, so you don't hurt anyone.

Starting fellowship was a bit like that. People are asking your "expert" opinion, not realizing that you don't know squat about your own specialty yet. But, again, you push through - read a lot, see patients and learn from them. It's a steep learning curve.

Now that I'm nearly done with fellowship (1-2 years left, depending on whether I do that research year or not), starting a new year isn't much different. More of the same. Only tomorrow, it'll be dozens of new, young faces, scared out of their wits. I'm anticipating the next week will be rough with unnecessary consults. See, the new interns start tomorrow, but the R2s and R3s are the same - they've got it down at this point. But July 1 marks a new year for residents -- the old interns are now R2s and the old R2s are now R3s. Transitioning to R2 year is tough, as you're responsible often for running the whole team. So, that's going to me a whole lot of unnecessary consults, with R2s just wanting to make sure they've got it right. [nb: these are the same people who just 2 weeks earlier (as interns) would roll their eyes when their resident wanted an ID consult to treat a simple pneumonia; things are different when you're in charge!]

So, we'll see how the next 2 weeks play out. Should be interesting, to say the least. Hopefully I can impart some knowledge on these newbies and teach them a little about ID and a lot about being a caring, compassionate doctor.

1 comment:

Julia said...

good for you. how important to be "caring" doctors. seems those are few and far between these days.
if you have a chance, read this post written by a woman named Heather. Her little girl maddie was born premature (I don't know the whole story) but she had some problems as she grew... needed a big oxygen tank... anyway, Maddie passed away a couple months ago after being rushed to the hospital.