Intern Year: Days 0-4

Medical school leaves you on a high. You’re awesome. You have a new degree and title. People have spent the last few months telling you how awesome you are and congratulating you for basically showing up to life. It’s 100% magical.

So, you step into intern year eager, excited, yet oh so unprepared for the tidal wave that’s about to hit you. So, in the span of approximately 24 hours (ie day 1), you go from this:


To this:

Bambi Crying in Snow

The first day for me was somewhat of a shock. I felt like I went through a hurricane by the day’s end. As a med student, you get a grasp on the fund of knowledge you need and get good at history taking and writing notes. If you can do that as a med student, you’re golden.

So, it’s a bit of a shell shock when you have to write the notes before the team rounds, take out Foleys, make sure consents and H&Ps are up to date, answer pages, write notes while answering pages, field all of the pages that inevitably come in at 4 pm, understand all the scribble that you have written down on your route sheet, figure out how to order a prescription (“wait, I can write that? the motrin?” “yes, you can”), understand the turf wars that go on between the ER/different admitting services, figure out admission and discharge paperwork, figure out operative paperwork, figure out how to dictate, learn how to suture nicely, learn how to handle all of the laparoscopy stuff, and, last but certainly not least, figure out how to drape the patient in the OR while maintaing sterility.

The first few days of residency have made it evident to me how much I do not know. Even simple things (ie draping patients in the OR) must be learned. There is a specific way to do most anything in medicine, particularly a surgical specialty and especially when you’re a beginner.

As an intern, you feel a bit inept and needy, always needing to ask seniors for help. The confidence of 4th year quickly fades as you realize just how much you do not know (and how much everyone around you does).

Fortunately, Bambi doesn’t stay in the cold, barren forest forever and neither does the overwhelmed new intern.


The beautiful thing of being an intern (amongst a litany of not so great things) is that you always have back-up. I have wonderful senior residents who put up with having to physically put my hands in the correct places to do certain sutures, yet who celebrate each milestone that comes with being an intern. As much as I’ve had to take instruction or criticism and ask for help, I’ve had as many “yay, you did your first hysteroscopy!” and “yay! you made it through your first week!” come my way, too.

Intern year is going to be hard. The learning curve is steep. The hours are tough and sometimes the criticism tougher.

I’m holding on and ready for the ride.


Until next time…

(If you’re wondering, yes, I’ve still had time to run and exercise…and even gotten my co-interns to join me!)









8 thoughts on “Intern Year: Days 0-4

  1. So rather than comparing your experiences this week to my first job I will compare it to learning to ride a horse- I was so incompetent and scared that I had to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb to keep breathing (the horse can sense your fear and if you stop breathing he gets scared too starting a vicious cycle that generally ends with said scared rider hitting the dirt) – compared to today: I can now ride my horse backwards and blindfolded without even putting my feet in the stirrups- and have absolute confidence! I know it will be the same for you- very soon!

  2. Congrats on making it through your first week! I’m sure that it will only get better and more “natural” as the weeks go on. My first day on the job (teaching 1st grade), I had my classroom beautifully decorated and ready for my students, and I was anxiously awaiting their arrival…. but they weren’t showing up! A couple of minutes after school was scheduled to begin, a parent came to my room to tell me that all of my kids were lined up on the playground waiting for me. The school director forgot to tell the new teachers to pick up the kids! Oops! Not exactly the way you want your first five minutes on the job to go, but I never forgot again.

  3. Congrats on finishing your first week! That’s a big deal! I think the key when starting a new job (especially medicine, and even dietetics) is knowing that there is still SO MUCH TO LEARN. And that it’s ok to ask for help. Learning from others experience, etc. is awesome. I want to hear more about this stuff! Hopefully you will continue to have time for these updates 🙂

  4. Do you feel like the mixture of “Hey, you have no idea what’s going on” and “Hey, good job with that procedure” is unique to your specialty? I feel like it’s a known “myth” (or whatever word you want to use) that it tends to be a more “kind” field to specialize in (compared to say, ortho, or general surgery). I’m potentially interested in OB also (I like the patient population and the combination of office visits and surgery), and was just curious if you’ve found that to be true. Have any of your med school friends (the ones you’ve had a chance to talk to anyway!) seemed to have an opposite or harsher experience so far? Congrats on making it through your first week!

  5. My first few days on a new job compare nothing to what you have experienced. You will do amazing and I know that when your time comes as a senior resident you will be wonderful teacher and support system for your intern.

  6. Congrats on surviving the first week! It sounds like you are surrounded by some great people who will help you along this road. The only thing that seems to help me when I start at something new is that at one point, everyone around me was new too and went through the very same things.

  7. I was such a deer in headlights my first week as a nurse. That first year in nursing is a steep learning curve…and definitely so in medicine as well! Second years know SO much more than interns, it’s really crazy to think about. Ob/gyn sounds a lot nicer than the surgical people we get…they yell at the interns a lot, poor guys. (I only say “guys” because our two interns are men right now. We’ll get women eventually!)

Don't be shy, leave a reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s