What I’ve Learnt in my First Year as a Doctor


So, the last time I wrote a post was over two months ago. I haven’t been feeling very inspired of late, although I’m trying to get back into writing. And I thought it would be appropriate, seeing as we are still in the first month of the year, to reflect on my first year of internship.

I can still remember that first day of being an intern so clearly. I remember feeling completely terrified and overwhelmed, unsure if I would remember how to do anything I’d learnt as a student. I knew almost no one and didn’t really know how the hospital worked. I also felt excited though! I was looking forward to a year of no studying and exams, of learning new things and meeting new people. I thought I was ready for internship.

Well a year down the line, and I can say with certainty that 2014 was one of the most challenging of my life. Nothing tests you quite like internship in a state hospital. I’ve had many moments since that first day where I’ve thought, “Am I doing the right thing? Will this all be worth it?”. It’s unbelievably frustrating to think you’ve dedicated such a large portion of your life to something, and then the reward in return isn’t always there. However, there really is no point in telling you everything I disliked about last year. I can explain how terrible you feel after a night of no sleep, or the stress of being called to resuscitate a patient, or getting home after work still worrying about a sick patient. But ultimately that will make neither you nor me feel better.

Instead, I’m going to look at what I gained from my first year of internship. Firstly, I’m far more confident in myself and my ability as a doctor. As a student I always shied away from practical tasks. If we were asked if we would like to present a patient or do a particular procedure I was always the last to volunteer. This made me feel very unsure of myself and my potential skills when I started working. However as an intern you don’t have a choice. Even if you hate doing certain things, there’s no one else to do them. So you man up, get over yourself and do it. You also have to trust yourself enough to diagnose and manage a patient properly. Yes, there are times when you make mistakes and do the wrong thing. But you learn, and you make sure you don’t do the same thing again. And when you realise you’ve made the right diagnosis and managed the patient appropriately… You feel like a million bucks.

Secondly, I’ve made some really great friends from this. When you’re working with people every day who are going through the same thing as you it’s inevitable that connections will be made. You also get to interact with doctors from other parts of the country (and world). You interact with senior doctors who you are able to learn from. And every now and then you work with someone who inspires you to become a better doctor.

Internship is not an easy time, but if you are able to look past the challenges and appreciate what you’ve learnt it makes a difference. Granted, at 2 am when you haven’t slept and you have patients swearing at you, the ward calling you to put up a drip or you can’t get a history out of patient from Mozambique, it’s not easy. But considering this is two years of your life you’ve got to try look at the bright side.

Here’s to 2015, with new challenges and achievements (and hopefully many more blog posts!).

Thanks for stopping by ❀ .
G xxx


3 thoughts on “What I’ve Learnt in my First Year as a Doctor

  1. Hey! I just found your blog and absolutely love it! It’s so interesting and honest and I cannot stop reading!

    You might be interested in the blog I just started. It’s called Dear South African Doctors


    Keep up the amazing work! ❀


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