Advice for New Doctors | Intern Year

So you’ve successfully completed medical school and you are ready to jump into your career as a physician. You’re likely armed with a fresh white coat and a new ID badge with the highly coveted M.D. following your name. First and foremost, congratulations! Getting through medical school is no easy feat and matching with a residency program isn’t either. However, much of your hard work is likely just beginning. As you start your intern year, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. Below is a compilation of advice for new doctors that will undoubtedly help as you start your intern year.

Advice for New Doctors

Advice for new doctors

Ask Questions

Chances are, you were a great student. After all, it is nearly impossible to complete medical school without good study habits. However, as you begin your career in medicine, you will have less experience than essentially everyone else you work with. Never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know the answer! And rest assured, there will be times when you don’t know the answer. This is okay as long as you are willing to admit to yourself and your peers. Some questions you run into on the job will be answered based on experience rather than technical textbook knowledge. Given that you are just starting out, you quite simply can’t have the experience needed to answer these questions. It is always better to ask for help than to try to do something when you’re unsure.

Get to Know the Nurses

Building on the point above, take time to get to know the nurses you work with. Although they may not have spent the last four years in med school like you, they have likely spent at least that long actually practicing healthcare. With this experience, they are bound to know things that you do not. Not to mention, your success will often be dependent upon them as well. While you may input orders into the computer, they are going to be the person on the front lines actually carrying out your orders. Work to develop a rapport with the nurses so that you can ensure strong channels of communication.

It’s Okay to be Nervous

In fact, most physicians are as they begin their intern year. The transition from student to practitioner is scary but it is important to keep this in perspective. On days when it feels like you may be in over your head remember that the attending physician you are working with certainly felt the same way at some point in her intern year. She likely spent time searching for advice for new doctors much like you. As you gain practical experience, things that seem impossible today will become second nature. Sure, the process to get there will feel tedious but every doctor who has come before you has endured and you will too. Ultimately, it’s totally normal to be nervous. Recognize the nerves and channel them into excitement. After all, you have an important job and patients wouldn’t want a doctor who doesn’t recognize that.

Remember to Find Outside Enjoyment

Too often, great doctors become burnt out before they can fully reach their potential. Of course, practicing medicine is demanding. There will be long days and long nights. You will likely be expected to skip special occasions here and there. While the love of the job may be enough to keep you moving during difficult times now, recognize that enjoying outside passions is the best way to avoid physician burnout. Ultimately, even new doctors in their intern year deserve to have work/life balance. When you do get home, allow yourself time to relax, exercise, and pursue the hobbies that you enjoyed before. This will make you much more prepared to return to work the next day.

Intern year is bound to be stressful and exhausting at times. That said, countless physicians before you have navigated year one successfully. In roughly twelve months, you’ll be able to add your name to that growing list. Remember that the path through your intern year will allow you to become the doctor you have imagined. You’ve completed the first stage in your medical education, now you begin the next. Follow this advice for new doctors and you’ll be off to a great start.


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