« The Dog Days of Med School | Main | Horses, Zebras, Ninjas »

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



I'm a final year Australian student with less than 6 months to go. I absolutely feel worried at times, but at the moment am so much more excited to finish med school. We'll finally get out there and do what we've been training to do for SO long :) When I get worried about making a mistake, I remind myself of how much supervision and support we'll have when we start, and that our superiors know exactly where we're coming from. Hopefully, there will always be someone out there to ask if we have any questions.

Thanks for your blog Anna, I love knowing there are other people out ther who feel exactly the same as I do! Best of luck!

Posted by: Miranda | Jul 16, 2008 4:03:04 PM

hey im in my final year now..6 month from now im gonna graduate and start my houseman ship(intern). believe me its does scary me a lot of time. especiallly when we failed to answer any management question from the lecturer during round their next quote will be " you gonna be doctor and make decision next year and still you are trembeling for your answer".i hate that but tis true. sometimes we are thinking can we do it? am i able to cope with this. i think only time can answer that. after all, i did read a qoute about we will see 1000 death in front of our eye before we can prevent any..not mean that we can prevent the death but we learn from our mistake and make sure its never gonna happen again especially not from our mistake.

Posted by: jasmin | Jul 16, 2008 9:46:31 PM

Me too
I am going to start my final year within the next few days and I have the same feeling.
But I guess this feeling will start to decrease by seeing more patients

Posted by: Mahmoud | Jul 16, 2008 11:56:26 PM

Think "if thousands of people have done it, then so can I".

Posted by: Dr Haisook | Jul 17, 2008 2:18:53 AM

am a medical student frm India, .. one n a half years more to go to do intership... before tat there is final year, tats wat the hard part is. As far i know my seniors here who r interns now are doing good. I dont think they worry much abt taking decisions n all (cuz there r PG students to help them out always). Just do ur best n try to be responsible. Things will go rite in the correct track. All the best to u ..

Posted by: litty | Jul 17, 2008 3:32:45 AM

what did you think???
you are ready or not...I thought both that was true...
in fact.

Posted by: edi suarnala | Jul 17, 2008 4:57:42 AM

i wish to be invoved in making descions or to be the first one who see the patient , but here in our hospital , intern doc is like med student , nothing change :(

Posted by: | Jul 17, 2008 6:00:22 AM

Hi Anna, I'm Anna here also. I guess i'm also in the same boat as u. I'm a 4th yr student, going to enter my 5th yr in sept (6 year system). Since young i've always wanted to become a doctor, however, as of late, i've been thinking/worrying a lot about my competency/clinical skills. Somehow i feel as if i don't know anything coz i always seem to be forgetting stuffs, how will i be able to become a good doctor? Or will i make it? It scares the hell out of me..but i guess we all go through this phase, especially when it comes to our final years...anyways, i want to wish u and all the others reading this 'all the best'. We'll persevere with God's help!

Posted by: Anna | Jul 17, 2008 6:30:49 AM


i kinda get what you're running into right now. I am on the brink on finishing my 5th year in Heidelberg,Germany now and if i pass my tests tomorrow, im gonna start my end year rotation.

I gonna start with surgery in Basel, switzerland, and my first rotation there would be ped. surgery. To tell u the truth, i am not a fan of ped. surgery at all, perhaps because i know too little about it. And then the journey continues to Heilbronn, a small town south of heidelberg, where i gonna do my internal medicine and anesthesia rotation. (we have only 3 rotations in our final year in germany, each for 4 months =)

I always get the jiggy every now and then, questioning myself if i would get the hang of it and can surely "survive" the rotations, whether im good enough for the job and shielding myself from the stress and pressure =)

but i see it positively... im sure we all be good doctors =)

cheerz to u and good luck


Posted by: Oscar | Jul 17, 2008 9:59:43 AM

Hey Anna!

I'm about to start my internship in September.I'm a little nervous, but I'm very excited as well! Don't worry about it! I think we know a lot more than we realize, and what we don't know, we'll learn! Always keep an on-call handbook in your pocket and the numbers of your residents handy for those tricky, middle-of-the night situations! Do well, and as some others have posted on here, God will help you! Just ask and trust!

Posted by: | Jul 17, 2008 11:05:47 AM

hehehe.......really funny! I wonder about the same tin - when will it be discovered that i am not the smartie they think i am????????

Posted by: Bee | Jul 17, 2008 12:51:00 PM

ok... now i'm worried too! =S

Posted by: dulce | Jul 17, 2008 2:58:51 PM

Hi Anna,

I'm a med student on the Uk and i have just finished my final year. I am about to start my intership in London and its refreshing to hear that you Americans feel the same as us, it does seem daunting but you will be very releaved and pround when your finally at the end. They way to think of it is that the end is in sight and you can finally enjoy the great responsibilities and achievements of being a doctor and making a difference to peoples lives.

Dont worry, good luck and think of the tiring but bright future of medicine!!!


Posted by: Pranav Patel | Jul 17, 2008 5:09:52 PM

Hi Anna,
I'm an Indonesian student. I also little bit worried about my interns. But I believe it will be exciting. Let's try our best to be a good doctor!

Posted by: Daniel Aji | Jul 17, 2008 9:55:26 PM

a whole year?! I have 6 monthes from now ,good gracious , I envey u. What makes me not so worry that I already see the patints , I alredy try to diagnose and follow up the cases with professors . Believe me I was right in cases , to somewhat in others and totally wrong in other cases. But professors also have faults and I saw it too .
So working at 1st with a team, under the supervision of expereinced doctor . That makes me feel some ease. With my best wishes.

Posted by: avicine ra | Jul 18, 2008 5:16:45 AM

When I got admission into Med school,i had mixed feelings,I was more scared than happy.I knew i had alot of responsibility ahead of me,i had the same feeling when i finished med school,I worried about how I was going to take care of my patients,if I had enough knowledge,if I would be able to take the right decisions,if i was smart enough to be a good doctor though I graduated as one of the best 10 students in my class.I guess it is normal to be scared.Like one of the contributors said let us put all our trust in God with prayer and petition with thanksgiving present our request to God,I know He will see us through

Posted by: Nneka Nwakobi | Jul 18, 2008 7:29:06 AM

dearest anna,
i totally understand ur situation. who else can with final year's exam approaching in 2 months.i m a final year student in mbbs at grant medical college and jj group of hospitals in mumbai, maharashtra, india. all i can say is dont worry, i m sure u will b a great clinician . ALL THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: swati | Jul 18, 2008 9:22:32 AM

Just a word of advice to you. I should have been an attending today. I should have completed my residency three years ago. I am thirty four now and got in at the age of twenty three.

I guess I am the picture that could have been if I was not convinced to leave six years ago. If there is one thing you can learn from my attrition in achieving the American Dream, is not to be shy.

Stand up and fight to do the things that will build your confidence even if you think they don't like you. Remember, it is YOUR dream we are dealing with. I did not fight though you should so you do not become a could have picture.

Posted by: Edward | Jul 18, 2008 9:30:35 AM

Hi,Anna!I think you are ready for this job,because you dare to ask such philosophic question=)Our countries are totally different,but, i think ,people everywhere are the same.I am a medical student,at september my last year starts.During 2 years i took extra classes on traumatology.I also work as nurse at the regional traumatological hospital.Sometimes i^m alloved to cope with luxations, wounds,simple fractures on my shifts(our program in univercity contais approximately 1% of practical aspects)At this time i feel like butcher-i^m calm=) and my brain find in memory all needed things in a moment(I think it^s because of responsibility for someones health)Sorry for Bad English.If you have time,tell me about your internship,please.Wish you to gat satisfaction of your work=)and good teachers=)

Posted by: Stanislav Kozyryev | Jul 18, 2008 1:02:52 PM

The thing about the proverb, "life is too short" is it's truth is a two-sided coin. Is life is too short to spend a decade of it earning the right to help and care for people? Or, on the other hand, is life too short to pass up the challenge and opportunity to do those deeds?

Thank you to Anna for sparking the discussion and all the amazing people who added their two cents. You may have saved some in the end.

Posted by: Doug S | Jul 19, 2008 8:38:09 AM

Welcome to worry-land! i just started my year as an intern a month ago, it´s been good on the medical aspects, and it´s been not so good in other aspects, you know, remembering simple stupid things that you are supposed to do as a doctor that have nothing to do with medicine. But ok, I think it has been better than I thought it would be, I was really PANICKING first week off. Get ready - you´ll cry, but you´ll get over it nearly as fast. Good luck, if you really love your career you´ll be able to make it through, no matter what.

Posted by: Martha | Jul 19, 2008 11:35:12 AM

well i´m in my 4th year of 6 and a half rigth here in la universidad del zulia in maracaibo - venezuela. and in that year is very scared ´cuz all the dr. ask us everthig since treatmet until diferential Dx, so we are ready scared but like you said a whole year you have to perfection all your little thing,,, good luke ans succes

Posted by: faby | Jul 19, 2008 8:33:28 PM

Dear Anna,
i'm a romanian student, i graduated my 6-th year of med school, in two months i'll have my final exam and then i'll go for the residency exam in november. I have also a great deal of fears, just like u do, because the best years are gone. I try to kill those fears by seing more and more patients, being a volontary in an ambulance service. I closely watch doctors making quick decisions, treating patients, giving them back to life, and i say to myself that probably they had the same fear as i do, they studied the same as i do, so probably Hypocrat will stay by side me in my med practice, to be able to carry on his sword.
I am quite shure you'l be a good doctor, thank's for your blog, wish you the best!!

Posted by: dr.MB | Jul 19, 2008 11:35:40 PM

Hi Anna! I'm in my 4th month as a 4th year medical student, its scary but its fun :-) you'll be tired doing straight 36 hours duty every 3 days but it get's better as you learn to adjust. I am enjoying it, i hope you will too :-)

Posted by: ellaine | Jul 20, 2008 5:58:22 AM

Hi Anna and everyone else,
I am a med student from Colombia, in my country We take 5 years before ending the Med school, but the last one (the one I am living) we are just practising with all the knowledge we are supose to have achieved till now, and we are called interns. At this moment we are responsible for our patients, and its great, but Let me tell You it is completly commom to have this kind of worries, We all have them and I think it is a Good thing that we dont consider ourselves as the ones who know it all, cause as physicians we cant stop studying never ever! there will be always something new to learn and litle details we have forgotten and which We need to read over again.
So, it is nice to be worried, it means You want to be a Great physician....and I am sure You will be!

Posted by: Shirly | Jul 20, 2008 9:39:58 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.