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10 Tips and Tricks from an Intern year

By Dr Sophie Kinnear, 2018 Medical Intern at Peninsula Health.  Dr Kinnear is the recipient of the 2018 Intern Colleague’s Choice Award. For this award, interns and other colleagues vote for who they believe has been the most exceptional intern throughout the year. Dr Kinnear shares some of her key learnings and highlights of the past year.

This year has been so wonderful, it’s difficult to sum up, but my overwhelming experience has been one of learning – learning the responsibility of being a doctor; the names of the people I work with; drug doses; fax numbers; coffee orders; which stairwells to use and which will leave you locked inside; how to approach patients and their families; how to wheel a large computer down a hallway without crashing into multiple obstacles (still a work in progress); how to squeeze in meals, drinks and toilet breaks; how to survive night shift;  how to make the most of the little things and how to ask for help when I needed it (thanks to all the amazing people that helped me out this year!).

Most importantly I realised how essential it is to prioritise friends and family, not only for support when you need it, but also to ensure you maintain a life outside of medicine. 

Based on all of my learnings, here are my 10 tips for being an Intern.

  1. Be friendly, introduce yourself and try to learn people’s names – a little effort goes a long way.
  2. There is never not enough time in the day to eat a meal, drink water and use the bathroom – but it’s important to make time (your kidneys will thank you for this one!)
  3. Learn the layout of the hospital and use it to your advantage e.g. there is a staircase leading from Kafe K to the back wall of the G South blocks that is excellent for a coffee run.
  4. Grow your hobbies outside the hospital e.g. exercise (enables you to climb the stairs as quickly as possible from level 2 to 5) and baking (wins the affection of anyone you haven’t yet won over with your name memorising skills).
  5. Stay in regular contact with your support network (family, friends, partner, pets)
  6. Leave on time as much as possible – this enables you to do more of Tip 4 and 5 and, all joking aside, this is crucial to your health and wellbeing.
  7. Find the joy in the little things e.g. free coffee, friendly patients, a cannula being done before you get there, someone bringing in baked goods.
  8. Ask questions and be honest if you don’t understand something that you have been asked to do – no question is “stupid”.
  9. Memorise some key phone/pager numbers or save a list to your phone – this will save both you and the switchboard time and effort.
  10. Finally, (most importantly) appreciate, respect and support your colleagues – buy each other coffees, set up a group chat and message for breaks, if you can help another team out etc.