welcome interns // it gets better

July 1, 2014

July 1!  I know most new interns have started already, but today’s date marks the official start of the academic calendar in the medical world.  And for me, it’s the first July I’m NOT spending in academia (my fellowship ended at the end of July 2013, due to maternity leave).  

In case anyone was wondering, YES, it does get better.  SO much better.  In fact, I would say that every stage was better than the last, but being an attending with no one to answer to is a huge leap up.  Yes, there is more stress associated with clinical decisions and it means I have to think harder.  But after all that training (for me, 11 post-college years!) I feel well-equipped and just happy to get to be putting the skills that gradually accumulated to good use.
Specific things that are better now:
— I can practice with the ‘style’ that I want.  This is SO freeing!  During training, you often have to tailor everything to whichever attending is on at the time, when often there are numerous “right” ways to do something.  
— I feel more attached to my patients, and they feel more attached to me.  There is also better continuity since I know I’ll be seeing many of them for the long haul.
— Outsourcing “scut”.  I am so thankful I don’t have to spend my time doing things like fishing for old records/growth charts, doing prior authorizations, or answering routine diabetes calls during the day (not that I would mind doing the latter, but there just isn’t time and the certified diabetes educators at our practice are AWESOME.)
— I am in charge of how I get my work done and how the day flows, to a degree.  Of course there’s still not THAT much flexibility on office days, but when I’m on call I can organize rounds the way I want.
— I definitely feel more respected by other doctors/clinicians than I did as a trainee.  This feels really nice.  I think it would be hard for people who end up staying in the same location to practice as in training, because I’m not sure the same ‘status bump’ would happen so automatically.
— Yes, the compensation is better.  A lot better!  (It would probably seem even better without a move to a city where everything is at least 2x as expensive, but I still can’t complain!)
SO, if you’re starting out your intern year (or gearing up to start med school), know that while the whole thing doesn’t have to be torture, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Good luck!!
(for more July 1 reading material –> Vintage post (2010): Things I wished someone told me at the start of residency)


  • Reply Xyz March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    So helpful! I remember reading the 2010 post a million times before starting my intern yr in 2011.. And now this is awesome. I’m in my fourth yr of a psych residency and may do a 1 yr fellowship next year– but the low-level stress of adapting to attendings can just stop…. Not that anyone is even cramping my style, but I can’t let go of wanting to make everyone happy. I think in psychiatry it gets very vague & style based pretty quickly. And, yeah, I have no idea how anyone would practice where they went to residency, at least in the main site of the program, for a lot of reasons.

    I moonlight on the weekends too though, which is helping a lot in some ways, but also making the process feel so slow.

    My big worry is actually the time management and the scut. I’ve never been very efficient (understatement but gonna address it this yr!!) and I think a lot of places that aren’t private have a lot of non-billable-scut time to add on.

  • Reply Kari March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I’m a non-trad med student, and I read this during orientation to my 3rd year of med school today! Thanks for the reminder, after suffering through 2nd year and taking STEP 1 it’s nice to remember that there is plenty to look forward to down the road. I like hearing about the medicine side of your life and seeing your efforts to maintain a normal life and some balance.

  • Reply Jess March 10, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    My fiance just took step 1, and is just starting his third year rotation for surgery, and man, is it weird for him not to be home as early as usual. I know there is a lot worse ahead, but it’s nice to read this, still. 🙂

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