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Will I Be Ready?

NewannaAnna Burkhead -- Folks, it’s time. Prepare yourselves. The final frontier is upon us.

Well, the final frontier is upon me really, not all of y'all. And not really a final frontier actually, just the beginning of my last year in medical school. Forgive me, for I’m prone to hyperbole.

On Monday I will commence the first rotation of 4th year. It is an away, “audition” rotation, and will surely be the topic of a later blog. The fact that the rotation is entirely across the country, at a school I’ve never visited, with people I’ve never met, none of that scares me. What scares me is that a year from now, I (and every other newbie 4th year out there) won’t be starting a rotation, but instead starting work as a new doctor.

Our orders will matter! Our progress notes will be read and taken seriously! Our pagers will go off first! We will be the ones on call! We will be the ones making decisions at 3am! We will be the ones who are responsible when things don’t get done! We will….

Good gracious. We’re in for it, aren’t we?

I know that all doctors start off as interns, and that nearly all of them survive it. I know that I still have another year of learning before I will be expected to do the job myself. But I also know that I’m already thinking and worrying about what it’s going to be like. Is that normal?

I know that several residents and medical students out there have revealed their secret question, “When is someone going to realize that I don’t belong here / that I’m not smart enough / that I am never sure of my decisions?” It’s my secret question too. (I need to know… seriously… when’s it going to happen?)

Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. I’m a bit of a worrier. I still have a whole year to get more comfortable with medicine.

A whole year. The last year of this chapter of learning!

July 7, 2008 in Anna Burkhead | Permalink


Good luck... and try not to be such a worrier!

Posted by: Diana Olaciregui | Jul 8, 2008 8:30:24 PM

I'm in my 4th year (the penultimate year in SA)
and i worry about the exact same thing. So you're not alone in being a worrier. Scared to hell that i'm gonna screw up and become depressed and lose my sanity.

But i say lets be warriors rather. We've gotten this far. It certainly has not been easy and we've survived. I'm sure we can pull thro :)

Strength and Honour

Posted by: Nasr Timol | Jul 9, 2008 10:50:54 PM

I have friends who are medical interns now, as well. It's been hell for them being on-duty for 36 straight hours every 3 days... especially when assigned to a government hospital with patients that don't seem to stop coming even on the wee hours of the day.

Glad to know you have the spirit for internship!I'm sure you'll make a wonderful doctor.

Wish you the best of days for the next 364 ;)

Posted by: Margie | Jul 10, 2008 12:59:40 AM

I´m almost a doctor. I´m in the last 4 months before my graduation. My fear about being a doctor has decreased progressively during the last year. Being an intern is a worderful experience, however, sometimes you feel worried and you have the felling that you know nothing... But, this dissapears with time! As i discuss cases and patients diseases with residents i see that my knowledgment isn't very different from theirs...
I wish every medical student good luck!!! Enjoy your best days during your internship!

Posted by: João Paulo Pucci | Jul 10, 2008 5:39:49 PM

I am not sure if you are into faith, but here are two scriptures for you
1." I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!" Philip 4:13
2. "Do not be anxious about anything , but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philip 4:6
You will be fine

Posted by: For Christ | Jul 14, 2008 3:54:13 PM

I've just started my "Sub-intern" year at University of Nebraska's Primary Care program where you start your first year of a 4 year residency during your M4 year as a (supervised) sub-intern the entire year (in exchange for getting 4th year paid for and a stipend) and I have been writing orders on my own patients in clinic for a couple of weeks now. This is intimidating, but stimulating. Next month I hit the wards and start taking call, this will be scary. My classmates who are in the program that started on their wards month have told me they are surprised how well they have done. There is a little doctor inside of you that only gets woken up and brought to life when you are called on to take responsibility.

Posted by: Tim Larsen | Jul 15, 2008 5:57:24 PM

If you are wondering if you will make it as a physician and you are entering your fourth year of medical school, stop it. The key to medical school is enjoying the ride in the moment, not thinking of what you will not be able to do or succeed in. Allopathic medical school is taught all wrong and they have historically used fear to instill knowledge within the students, what a joke. This causes new physicians to treat students they encounter in a similar way. Give me a break intelligent, kind, and helping doctors. I am in naturopathic medical school and we are taught in a more humane way. Imagine that, medical school that is manageable, of course crazy, but reasonable in terms of style of instruction. The allopathic medical community believes that they have the one and only answer to all health conditions, it's time to wake up and realize that this is not so. Okay, so obviously if you have made it to 4th year then the rest will be fine. May kindness and peace be with you in every situation, whether at 10am or 3am.

Posted by: Danny | Jul 15, 2008 7:00:53 PM

I cannot speak much for your position as a 4th year, in a month and a half I'll just be starting my 2nd year of med school, but I am already thinking the same things you are. I can certainly make the grades, I can read a book and understand the concept and remember enough details to do well on a test (we all can), but I wonder if I am smart enough out of the classroom to do it. I've been told by people close to me that I am one of those "smart people with no common sense" and while I laugh it off when they say it I seriously get worried that it will affect my ability to make decisions, especially when someone's life is on the line. It makes me panic. You are not alone in your worrying.

Posted by: Shelli | Jul 15, 2008 7:50:11 PM

Hi Anna!
Thank you for sharing your worries about being in Medicine. It is a bit of relief that medical students on the brink of becoming Doctors still have that little bit of doubt/concern. I am just starting out in my path to Medical School and I will take my MCAT soon. I think that this uneasiness about practicing medicine stays with us from the time we decide to go into medicine until the time we retire--and I think this might be a good thing. While it is not a good thing to have a lot of self-doubt, I think having a little keeps us on our toes, so to speak. It keeps us alert, and we mentally double check our actions and helps reduce errors (which is definitely a good thing). As physicians we hold a very intense knowledge that any one of our mistakes could be a fatal one, so I guess we shouldn't confuse the healthy message of 'double check that' with the every present and ominous one of 'you can't do this.'
There is a really cool proverb that I have found helps me when I encounter both very up and very down times, I hope it is helpful to you too:
"Be humble for you are made of the Earth. Be noble for you are made of the Stars." --Serbian Proverb.

Posted by: Krista | Jul 16, 2008 6:25:51 AM

I didn't think about that before i read your statement.
After I read it, i'm feel worried too...^_^

I'm a medical student, and i'll be like yours in 3 years again.

If you can handle about your feeling, please tell me via email how to solve it... thanks friend

Posted by: samuel | Jul 16, 2008 8:56:38 AM

hi there, i too am in my 4th year and i used to think exactly the same way when i first entered into medicine rotation. 2 rotations from there, now i feel really responsible and proud that im in the process of becoming a doctor.. hard work clubbed with intelligence and smartness are the key for success in the final year of your training wish you good luck..........

Posted by: karthik | Jul 16, 2008 9:15:06 AM

I'm currently in the same situation as our dear Anna here, I'm already freaking out about the responsabilities i'll get in little over a year from now. It's kind of crazy when you think back to your freshman year when you knew nothing and you felt you needed to ask every little detail...well guess what..it hasn't changed!! lol...you know a bit of everything but it comes down to decitions it's still very difficult... hopefully one day this will change but until then I'll keep on thinking twice about everything.....
best of luck to you all!!!

Posted by: gaby | Jul 16, 2008 9:51:14 AM

Hi there,
I will be starting my internship in a few weeks and I have similar worries, about my aptness, my intelligence and my ability to make right decisons when needed. But I am realizing that we need to trust our instincts and more importantly we need to trust God, the all knowing , ever present Father, He will help us when we need it...
So DONT WORRY!!1....Do youR best ....and leave it in the hands of the father. I pray that you will be led by Him.

God bless

Posted by: Naila | Jul 16, 2008 9:51:28 AM

I'm in the same boat with you, about to embark on my senior year as of Aug.25th. It's been many a night where I've pondered on exactly the same things as you. You're not alone...I must say, it does feel unnerving at times!! Is there any way to prepare for the next step? I guess we'll find out. I think we'll eventually get the hang of things, I mean, when we first entered clinical rotations, we were totally lost,not sure of what to do, or how to approach patients, or even take a history for that matter, but we had guidance, nonetheless.

Posted by: | Jul 16, 2008 10:01:00 AM

the anonymous post right above is mine, by the way. Look,at least we know that we'll adjust accordingly...isn't that what we've been doing all these years?
for the sake of our patients, at least I hope so...:-)

Posted by: Charlotte | Jul 16, 2008 10:04:28 AM

hiiiiiiiii anna....i will b a intern in 2010 ..in one and a half yrs tym...but b4 dat there's a v v v difficult final yr..(its d same all over india)
n as far internship goes..i'm sure it wud b grt n a tough learnin curve for all of us..

let us b more responsible,more caring...n devote ourselves to d duty of humanity...

btw..guyz..tell me..arent u concerned bout d post graduation(MS/MD)wdout whch life as a doctor in india is quite ...difficult...

lemme know ur concerns guyz..

Posted by: arnab | Jul 16, 2008 10:16:15 AM

hey guys!
let me let you know, that on other continents, people share the same thoughts- going from desperate "am i ready yet?" to a "hell ya!".... time and time again.
I am just studying for my final exam (in Germany it takes 6 years to get there), which is only 2,5months away and throughout my last year, I've made a lot of decisions about patients- and yes- there were wrongs (in which somebody backed me up) but there were a lot more rights than i would have thought....
the comment about the little doctor inside of you is definetly right! I had to do a resuscitation on a 580 grammer including intubating that little guy- and we both rocked ;) afterwards i didn't know how i remembered all the medications etc- i just did...
and you will too!
so good luck everybody out there! if you try your best, you won't screw up!

Posted by: kira | Jul 16, 2008 10:42:44 AM

I've just started my intern year, done 227 hours in the two weeks I've been working. Don't kid yourself, you're going to be too tired to worry about pretty much anything. I sort of feel guilty for saying this, but it's a blast. I know I should be a little more concerned etc, but it's such a cool feeling finally being able to do the job after so many years. I found that my conception of what the job would be like in med school was way off.

Posted by: jam | Jul 16, 2008 11:34:28 AM

im a medical resident. anna, dont worry so much. you'll get there eventually. you just need to have good clinical eye when you encounter a patient. if you dont know what to do, you alway have the chief resident or the consultant to ask.

Posted by: kara | Jul 16, 2008 12:02:49 PM

I'm a medical student from the Netherlands. Here we do 6 years of med school; first three years are theoretical and last 3 we do rotations. In my 5th year now, had a couple of rotations and just like you I'm starting to get worried if I'll be ready or if I'll know enough when graduation hits. I think that the uncertainties and worries we experience through this period is a healthy process. Makes you want to perform better and learn more, eventually making us better future doctors.

Posted by: Tiara | Jul 16, 2008 12:21:14 PM

Dear Ann,

Thank you so much for sharing you thoughts about being a doctor designate.I am a medical student in Kenya where we six years,the first three years basic sciences and the last three years clinical rotations for eight weeks each except in fifth year where the special rotations lasts four weeks only.

I am no in fifth year and I pretty much have the same worry of whether I will make a good doctor but after talking to some senior colleagues who are now intern I realized that definitely I will.

So you are not alone Dr.Ann!!!

Posted by: Akim | Jul 16, 2008 1:05:50 PM

Hi! I just wanted to say that I think it's very common to feel afraid, mainly when we are going to have people's life in our hands... every time that I feel like that, I think that the only thing we can do is to prepare ourselves very well to do our best always.

Posted by: Erika | Jul 16, 2008 1:23:44 PM

hello, i am medical intern, but i am mexican, i think they is not many diferences. good look!!

Posted by: javier | Jul 16, 2008 2:11:55 PM

Actually, i'm on the same boat as you. I am really really worried as I am going to manipulate human lives! and all of the lawsuits await doctors to get sued!

Posted by: zilentaken | Jul 16, 2008 3:47:01 PM

hello anna
I'm from saudi arabia
and I'm 4th year medical student
just i wanted to tell u we feel same like u and i have similar worries..
good luck

Posted by: Joudi | Jul 16, 2008 3:54:54 PM

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