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First Year of Residency: What it’s Like Being an Intern

By: Emily Hause

Graduating from medical school doesn’t mean you stop learning.

Kaplan MCAT expert Emily Hause shares with you every step of her journey—from getting accepted to medical school, to making her way as a medical student, to her recent graduation. Today, she’s discussing what it’s like to have achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor and to begin her residency.

Do you feel different now that you’re a doctor?

One and a half months into internship (the first year of residency), I can tell you that I still get a little excited every time I introduce myself. It’s exciting, and it also represents a large change in responsibility.

One of the most valuable aspects of starting my internship has been the sudden increased ownership I have for my patient care. In medical school, it always felt like your presence was somehow creating extra work. Even if patients “belonged” to you, their care was still also covered by the interns or senior residents. It felt like the training wheels version of patient care.

Now, the training wheels are off, and the decisions I make are the ones that affect the care of the patient. Granted, I’m still well-supervised by senior residents and attending physicians, but I have greater ownership over my patient care.

What are the best parts of residency?

So far, my new co-interns, the faculty I’ve worked with, and the patients I’ve had the opportunity to meet are the best parts of being an intern. My favorite part of medical school—the people—has also been my favorite part of the experience thus far.

I have also been really pleased with the level of educational experiences and support that I’ve gotten so far in residency. It’s nice to feel like while you’re in charge of patient care, your learning is also encouraged and supported. There’s no pressure for you to know absolutely everything; you just have to be able to figure things out.

What are the hardest parts of residency?

The hardest parts of residency have been similar to the hardest parts of medical school, but amplified. It’s easy to feel overburdened—that there is still so much to learn.

In medical school, I got comfortable navigating the hospitals and the electronic medical records system. In residency, I had to start from scratch by finding the bathrooms and elevators on each floor; I had to figure out how to log on to the computers. It was not exactly a glamorous start, by any means.

There’s also the stress of working long hours and not having many days off. I’ve been fortunate that my first two rotations have been relatively kind in the hours department, but that’s about to change soon.

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