Top 5 Keys to a Successful Internship

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Session 25

Session 25

In today’s episode, Ryan and Allison talk about the 5 keys to successful internship after med school and remember their experiences being interns.

A Johns Hopkins study illustrated that residents only spend about 12% of their time with patients which is a pretty crazy thing considering you’re going to be in the hospital for 16 hours a day as intern and only 1.92 hours spent with patients while the rest of that time is spent digging through charts, sitting in front of the computer entering notes, and looking through labs, EMRs, etc. And that’s a saddening fact.

Through the episode today, Ryan and Allison hope to help you become more efficient and hopefully spend more than 12% of your time with patients.

5 Keys to a Successful Internship after Medical School:

  1. Being organized.

  • Have a system to stay efficient (If you already have a system as a 3rd or 4th medical student, stick to it if it worked for you)
  • Have a patient list and keep it at all times (Here’s a sample patient list)
  • Write notes about additional things to do
  • Be updated as you sign in and sign out
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write everything down.
  • Prioritize what you need to do.
  • Have a separate page devoted to admissions
  1. Teamwork

  • Learn to be a good team player as you’re a part of the team.
  • Be aware of the different key roles of people in your team and establish rapport with them
  1. Knowing when to call somebody

  • Figure out a plan versus calling your senior resident
  • Coming up with your own plan allows you to start the wheels turning and have a plan in motion to help build your own confidence
  • Don’t just call your senior resident. Think of a plan without doing it yet and call your senior resident for feedback
  1. Knowing your patient when you call a consult

  • Know the patient before you call the consult.
  • Have a “consult question” in mind when calling
  • Provide some information about the patient to a consult
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
  1. Taking care of yourself

  • Take whatever system you have for you to decompress (exercise, yoga, talking to your significant other, listening to music, etc.), whatever it is, know when to take a break
  • Don’t keep it all in. Have a solid support structure.
  • Help your family and friends understand if you don’t have time to be with them

Other important things to remember:

  • Learn how to dictate to save you time when writing your notes.
  • Do your discharge notes right when the patient is discharged so you don’t forget anything.
  • Don’t write orders before you see a patient.
  • Don’t sign out follow-up labs or procedures for a sick patient.

Blog Spotlight

Dr. Vineet Aurora blogs at, and is on Twitter. She is the Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago. Dr. Aurora was featured on Session 38 talking about writing personal statements. She recently had a great post on KevinMD which you can check out about residency training and how it needs to change.

Links and Other Resources:

Here is a sample patient list that we put together.

Johns Hopkins Study – 12% of Intern Time Spent at the Bedside

ACGME Duty Hour Regulations

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