Sunday, July 13, 2008

Looking Back At Internship

Internship is over. Done. I still can’t believe this year is over. While definitely not unbearable -- it was in fact very manageable -- it was among the most exhausting and busy years of my life.

Looking back at internship, many thoughts come to mind naturally. On one hand I feel like I learned nothing, but upon deeper consideration, I really have come a long way in terms of personal growth and knowledge.

(As an example, I like to think back to my first few weeks of the year-- where I was afraid to order even a Tylenol -- to the last few weeks, where I had no problem making preemptive orders at night, announcing to nurses and patients alike, “Benadryl 50mg at 10pm, so we can ALL sleep well tonight.”)

Additional thoughts? For one, I did not learn medicine. It sounds odd and impossible, but it is true. I don’t feel like I learned how to heal people. However, I did learn how to write admission order in my sleep, draw little “To Do” boxes and check them off, and, most importantly, how to mask patients’ pain with Vicodin (“page me if you need more”). Middle of the day or middle of the night, I did these with such ease you’d think I had been doing this for years.

And somewhere -- somehow -- amidst all this ridiculousness, patients healed. Or perhaps, they just left the hospital in slightly improved condition, but either way I never felt it was any of my knowledge that contributed to their discharge.

Another unfortunate realization that developed this year is that I don’t like patients. Once again, odd but true, and it began as early as day 2 (on day 1 I was too nervous and enthusiastic to let it bother me.) Patients would describe their symptoms to me (or more accurately, explain in detail every aspect of their health except what I would be interested in), and all I could think about is “I don’t care.” Because I didn’t. I didn’t care about their problems, and as they would talk to me I would silently bet myself if they would stop talking within the next minute. I rarely won.

For me, the patient wasn’t a sick person. They weren’t poor humans seeking my skills in their time of sickness. To me, they were yet another obstacle to me getting sleep or going home. It is unfortunate how much this year has turned me against patients, and much as it may seem otherwise, I’m not proud of it either.

Anyway, regardless of how this year has changed me -- whether to make me more bitter, detached, wise, efficient, whatever -- it was a unique year. I mean, where else can you get on-the-job training that is simultaneously demanding, educational, frustrating, sleep depriving, and low paying? But enough is enough, I am ready to see what being a resident has in store now.