Transitioning into having DVM after your name is hard. You were "just" a student the other day and now you're expected to be in charge! If you followed my advice, you should have been practicing how to be a doctor all of your last year of vet school. After all, that's the time to act like it, since you have a lot of backup and support.
Now you're a newly minted veterinarian, and it's a scary, uncertain time. You're worried about the patients, the pressure, and the feeling of the unknown. Don't get me wrong, you WILL make mistakes. Everyone does, no matter what they say or how they act. The most important thing to remember is that you should be learning from each mistake so they become fewer and far between. So take a deep breath, and read below for some tips on how to succeed in your new position as a doctor and intern!
12 Ways to do great things during your internship
1. Act like you're the doctor
Yes, I'm repeating myself here. But really, you don't have the excuse that you're "just" a student anymore. Always remember this. The DVM after your name is not just for looks. You must embrace and embody it.
2. No one expects you to know everything
It's a training program. But you're expected to grow as the year goes by. If you're 2 months in and you are still having trouble with the electronic medical records (EMR) system and with how the hospital works, it's time to step it up big time.
3. Master the electronic medical records system
Yes, I know most EMR are not good. Regardless, learn it and figure out ways to make it work for you in an effective way. Ask other people that have been using it for longer. Email previous interns if you're no longer overlapping, talk to the residents, and faculty/clinicians to learn some tips and tricks. Create a system for how you do SOAPs and discharges so you do it the same time every time - you'll make less errors that way.
4. Figure out how to be efficient
You'll be figuring this out throughout your career, as you will have to adapt to different workplaces and positions. An internship (and your senior year) are good places to start. Make checklists for each patient. For example - did I perform a physical exam? Did I do a SOAP? What labs did I run, and which are pending? Is the discharge done? Do I need to call the owner with results later? Once you get into this habit, it will come naturally and you'll be able to move faster without forgetting simple but key things for each case. To this day, I'm always looking for things I can do to be more efficient.
5. Ask questions
Regardless of if you're in an academic or private practice program, remember to ask questions. What seems to be a quick, easy mental task for a specialist might seem like a daunting task for you. Aim to start making mental connections between what you already know and what you're learning on a daily basis. Don't make the mistake of asking questions just for the sake of it. You don't want to be seen as the annoying intern that asks basic questions all of the time. But if you have forgotten something basic, look it up on your own right then to connect it to the more complicated case in front of you. It'll help jog your memory in the future!
6. Be proactive and prepared for your cases
Read about and prep your cases, be prepared, and anticipate your patients' needs. In addition, try to anticipate what residents/faculty/clinicians are going to ask regarding your cases. Always, always try to have a problem list, differential diagnoses, and plan ready for your patients. You know you'll be asked about these - no excuses!
7. Remember your patients
Remember why you're going through a year where you'll be working way more than you'd like. No, it's not because you want a residency. It's to become a better doctor and therefore provide better patient care and quality of medicine. A residency (if you choose to pursue it), is your bonus for a job well done.
8. Have fun with your internmates
Not only have fun, but learn to work with them. You're all in the same boat, and they'll be there for you during the good and bad moments. And there will be plenty of each.
This is pretty self explanatory. Use every single moment you're off to rest, work on your mental and physical health. Don't forget to try and eat well if you can - there'll be plenty of unhealthy snacking while at work.
10. Find a mentor
Most internships assign you a mentor based on your interests. Take full advantange of him/her. They're there to help you throughout the year. Sometimes it won't be a good fit. No worries, it is totally ok to have conversations with other doctors as "informal" mentors. These can even be more helpful to you! And if by chance you don't have anyone that seems willing/able to help, don't hesitate to reach out to me. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
11. Prepare for next year's Matching Program
If you're interested in pursuing a residency, you'll want to give some thought on the upcoming VIRMP program. Start by looking at your rotation schedule, identify some potential letter writters, and then strive to offer awesome patient care and improve your knowledge base. People will notice it and hopefully it'll pay off in your favor.
12. Be nice
There are plenty of difficult personalities in our profession. Do you really want to be one of them? You'll make your life much easier if you work well with others. That will get noticed quickly, too. Working well with others (this includes all hospital staff, not just doctors), will serve you very well in the future.
Now get out there and kick a**!
Learn a lot and reach out if you have any questions!