As intern year comes to an end and another off-service rotation bites the dust, it means one thing: It’s time to be a doctor. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am aware that by definition interns are physicians, but we are protected physicians. We have spent the better part of our first year of training trying to figure things out.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 07 – July 2012
Whether it’s the technique of placing a chest tube or the importance of replacing electrolytes, or realizing that the orders we write actually get followed, we are still following orders from seniors so things get done right. But now it’s time for a new intern class to arrive and to look at us the same way we look at our second-year residents … like they know what they’re doing.
The question is, how do they know what they’re doing? Did they have a secret intern training that made them especially competent to treat the 110,000-plus patients that came through the Detroit Receiving emergency department last year? Did they take a class, and if so, did I miss that class? I do acknowledge that I know far more than I did a year ago, but it seems I am now also keenly aware of the litany of things I don’t know, and this might be the reason that intern year coming to an end is both incredibly exciting and admittedly daunting.
Fortunately for me, it doesn’t much matter if I’m “ready” to be a second-year resident, because as sure as time passes July 1 will come with or without me, and I will be forced to resume the role of the responsible and capable person my mother likes to think I am. And why? Because it’s time. Because I have watched very good residents ahead of me teach us how to be successful and warn us what not to miss. And while I have no doubt that I will make plenty of mistakes, miss diagnoses, and run the gamut of ineptitude at times, the truth is, I’m secretly looking forward to it.
Overall I think that I, like most of the interns with whom I work, are pretty excited to no longer be interns. Among other things, it means that we finally get to spend the majority of our time in the specialty we chose; perhaps more importantly, we get the privilege to have more chances to be wrong. Yes, I think being wrong is a privilege. Because when I look at those things I believe I now do well, it’s because I was fortunate enough to have screwed them up at least once before, and I learned. Maybe that’s what being an intern is actually about.