From the moment I set foot in the hospital as an intern on June 24, 2016 at 4:55 a.m. to the present as I write this reflection, my life feels as though it were playing in fast forward. It is hard to believe Match Day was almost a year ago.
March 18, 2016. I had been anticipating this day for months and I could not believe that it had finally arrived. I woke up that morning, sat on my couch, and began to journal as I do pretty much every day.
“Daddy, time to wake up! It is morning time!” I open my eyes to our four-year-old daughter at the foot of the bed smiling, her hair meticulously braided. I get up and wake her younger brother from his crib and carry him downstairs. The baby is still sleeping.
“Bunny!” my mom shouted from the foot of the steps, hurrying me out of bed the morning after my medical school graduation. She used the childhood nickname that came from my brother who was unable to pronounce “Dominic” as a toddler, a name that had stuck well into adulthood.
At this stage in our training as residents, we are at high risk for making mistakes. These mistakes can vary in range and type. It is impossible to go through residency without making an error, no matter how big or small.
In medical school, competence was defined by studying the course pack, that stack of crucial lecture notes, and memorizing the details therein. Especially in the first two years, my classmates and I spent virtually all of our waking hours reading text books, attending lectures, highlighting and underlining every word of the course material because we were told that all of it, every word, was important. This understanding of competence reflected the clear but unspoken end game: to have the best score on the exam possible, or at least a better score than the other half of the class.
Some time ago, you walked across the stage and received your first white coat. More recently, you walked across another stage and became hooded into your profession as a physician. Congratulations. You are now the owner of a piece of thick paper that allows you to medically manage acutely ill patients and alter the course of a patient’s treatment.
Realizing that we have both inpatient and outpatient months, which require different skill sets, I feel that it would be better to split these lists into both outpatient and inpatient suggestions. After a few month of being on outpatient rotations, here is my list of eight things to master in order to break the successful intern barrier in the outpatient world.
I got an email recently from one of the faculty at my program who prompted us to each evaluate the question “what does success in intern year look like?”
“Hey hey! How are you?” someone calls out as I walk into the fluorescently lit emergency department I call home. “Living the dream,” is my habitual answer, and it’s only half facetious.
Despite EBM’s role as an incredible advancement in the history of medical care and patient management, there remains many challenges that young clinicians must face when attempting to implement EBM into their respective practices.
Everyone warns you that intern year is hard. It’s a year of little sleep, a rollercoaster of emotions both good and bad. Frustration and guilt in wanting to know everything now because everything you don’t know might be what matters for this patient, this time. And tremendous successes. Some of the things I did this year, I really can’t believe I was able to do. And survive.