Countdown to July 1: PGY1

It is somewhat common knowledge that if you're going to pick a day to avoid the hospital, July 1 is the day. The hospital is awash with not only new interns but also senior residents still green with inexperience. And if you are a PGY1, welcome to Hell.

I remember the day after I graduated medical school, I was driving down the highway and saw a car run off the road and crash. As I drove by, I thought to myself, 'That person could really use a doctor...' Then it occurred to me: OH FUCK, that doctor is me!

The nightmare of intern year has been immortalized in the book, 'House of God' by Sam Shem, and I am sad to say that for the most part it still holds true after 30+ years. Intern year is still the singular worst one year period of medical education.

It is dehumanizing. It is humiliating. It is frustrating. And it wipes away any confidence or boldness carried over from medical school. MS3's complain that they've never felt so stupid as during third year, but that pales in comparison to intern year. At least during third year, your ignorance didn't hurt anyone but yourself. Now, what you don't know kills people.

The training goals of intern year are to learn patient care and disease management. However, what I walked away with was this: I learned what kind of doctor I am. The intern will learn what kind of doctor he is. Is he someone who fudges records? Does he take shortcuts? Does he stay late every day to tie up loose ends? Is he overly confident? Is he gun shy? By the end of PGY 1, an intern will know what kind of doctor he is, and he will spend the rest of his career either accepting that fate or fighting against it.

Some advice for new PGY1's
-If you can, wear scrubs all the time.
-Making friends with the nurses will improve your Rounding-Fu*.
-When you go home, leave the patients at the hospital.
-Make yourself a 'Laws of the House of God' checklist.
-Finally, but most importantly, the most valuable thing I learned during intern year was: sleeping is more important than eating.

*Rounding-Fu: How badass you are during rounds


bodkin14 said...

I'm still a post-bac student trying to cinch everything up to apply to med school but I wanted to comment on the "House of God" by Samuel Shem. I'm currently reading the book and it's just nuts. It scares the crap out of me. What am I getting myself into?

I've read a number of your posts and you have some great stuff to say. One question though: do you ever regret becoming a doctor? Just curious. Thanks

incidental findings said...

CT said...

I agree! Sleeping *is* more important than eating.