Preparing for Internship
Muyibat A. Adelani, M.D.
The countdown begins. Less than 90 days before you are an intern. But no need to go unprepared. Here are a few tips:
Sharpen up your medicine skills. At least part of your year will be spent on general surgery services, where the patients can be quite sick with very serious medical problems. You will have to know how to assess and manage diabetes, cardiac disease, and even more critical issues, like sepsis or shock. Even orthopaedic patients are sicker than you might appreciate. Often times, you are the person on the front lines and may be the first to pick up such issues. Pick up all you can from your remaining rotations. Read as much as you can.
Develop a reading plan for orthopaedics. Speaking of reading…currently, the intern year for orthopaedic residents has a lot more orthopaedics that it traditionally has. You will have less time to brush up on your orthopaedics than before. Create a plan to cover a book of general orthopaedics—Miller’s Review of Orthopaedics or Campbell’s would be a good place to start. If you can’t cover everything, make sure you cover the biggest-hitting topics—trauma and pediatrics. You also need to know the physical exam, especially a good neurologic exam for spine patients.
Identify mentors. Having a mentor as an intern is crucial. It is a hard year. No need to go through it without guidance. I think having at least one resident mentor and at least one faculty mentor at your institution would be helpful. If your program does not have such a program formally, then seek them out on your own.
Plan to take Step III. The farther you get into orthopaedics, the less you remember about general medicine. Therefore, it is in your best interest to take Step III as early as possible. Some programs, but not all, may require that you take it your intern year. But regardless, you should plan to take it your intern year. Ask your Program Director whether time off is allowed to take the exam. But even if you have to take a vacation day, it is worth it to get this test out of the way.
Develop and/or strengthen your support system. Intern year can be a stressful time. It is helpful to make sure that you have the appropriate support that you need. In addition to the mentors discussed above, make sure that your family and friends understand what you are about to begin, and that they are fully on board with you. Additionally, you should develop and/or maintain some enjoyable hobbies or outlets to help balance the stresses of work.
Don’t wait until July 1 to begin preparing for your intern year…start now.