Surviving your intern year

The beginning of the internship is a daunting time for every young doctor; it is the beginning of the rest of your career.

As you embark on the journey, along comes a new set of responsibilities and exciting experiences — and a sense of anxiety.

I was in the same position a couple of years ago — excited about my new career, but worried I was not ready.

However, I learnt a lot in making my way through rotations over the year.

Here are the tips which, with the help of my colleagues, I have identified to help you survive your internship and the rest of your medical career.

It is ok to not know

As you start out on the wards or in the emergency department (ED), it is only natural to second-guess yourself.

It is important to remember that as much as you may feel the pressure to know everything, you are a junior.

The intern year is designed to allow you to test your skills and knowledge and grow as a clinician with the support of your seniors.

There is always someone nearby to ask for help — you are encouraged to ask questions.

This does not just apply to clinical situations. A lot of your role as an intern will comprise of clerical work, scripts and discharges. A lot of this can be hospital or rotational-specific, so ask everyone around you for help, particularly nurses and pharmacists.

Remember, the ward pharmacist is a wealth of knowledge and is your best friend.

You are all in it together

Everyone you will work with is part of the same team.

Be nice to one another and help each other out.

If you have the time, offer to help a busy colleague by inserting a cannula into a patient or a do quick discharge.

A little help goes a long way and people will remember.

This doesn’t just apply to your fellow interns, this applies to all staff. No matter the size of a hospital, all staff will take note of those who are friendly and are a team player, and those who are not.

Being a part of the team makes a better work environment for everyone.

Work on yourself and embrace opportunities

Medicine is a competitive career; it is important to make sure you don’t get left behind.

If you know what you want to do and where you want to end up, that’s great.

If you are not sure, ask around and find out what you need to do to follow that path.

If you are like me, and are still figuring things out, that’s fine. You don’t have to work towards something specific to work on your career.

The junior years are the time to try things out and to see where you want to take your medical career.

As a junior doctor, resources and opportunities surround you, and everyone is keen to help.

Help ranges from teaching and courses to research, audits and advocacy.

While it may not be apparent at first, most registrars are keen to teach and students keen to learn, and consultants often have audits and case reports waiting to be picked up.

There are resources and opportunities everywhere, from supervisors to the education officers and the Junior Medical Officer (JMO) office. It is safe to say that everyone around you wants you to succeed — you just need to seek out the opportunities.

Make a life away from work

Medicine is hectic, and you can easily find yourself consumed by it — stuck in the dreaded “medical bubble”.

However, at the end of the day, this is still a job, and it is important to make a life outside of work.

Have friends outside of medicine, give yourself a break from it all and a chance to talk about anything else.

As busy as your internship is, when you leave work, you can actually leave work. This means you have more time than you’ve had in medical school to work on your hobbies or try a new one.

Look after yourself

Internship can be hard, but you must remember to look after yourself.

Schedule in regular exercise, join a sporting team, and get your own GP.

As stressful as work is, it is important to take your lunchbreak and do your best to leave on time.  These things are vital to keeping sane during internship.

If things start getting too much, it is ok to reach out. This can be to a friend or partner, or your GP.

Enjoy the year

At the end of the day, medicine is an amazing career and internship an amazing year – enjoy it!

Give yourself the chance to grow as a clinician and make the most of every opportunity.

Remember to be a team player. Help out your fellow interns and be nice to those around you.

Most importantly, take time out for yourself. Make a life away from work and be sure to look after you. You can’t treat your patients if you are off sick.

Dr Jayden Murphy was an intern at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital in 2018. With an interest in rural health, he is the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) Rural Representative. In 2017, Jayden was the GPSN National Chair and in 2016 he served as the GPSN National Vice-Chair. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Wollongong in 2017, where he was also the GPSN Club chair in 2015. He is also a graduate of Griffith University.

Your hospital years

Thriving during your hospital years and preparing for general practice