The 10 Commandments of Intern Year

For many newly minted doctors, the start of intern year provokes a myriad of emotions: Excitement, fear, anxiety. The transition from professional student to physician is a bigger change than most realize and just because you rocked medical school, doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a great resident.

You can think of Medical school being the RPR, with residency being the FT-ABS for what kind of doctor you will become.

Don’t be a type I error. Follow these 10 Commandments of Intern Year to be a great intern from day one.


  1. Thou shalt Not Lie

There will be numerous times this year where an attending will ask you very specific questions about a patient’s presentation. You will not know the answer because you didn’t think to ask the patient. It is easy to let your pride take over and take a random guess at answering their question. DO NOT DO THIS.


It might sound like common sense, but, in the moment, you will be tempted to do this to prevent yourself from looking bad. Trust me, the attending will figure it out and it will make you look worse. Your attendings have to be able to trust you, and admitting you didn’t do something is an important aspect of this.


It is ok if you forgot/didn’t know to ask an important question. You are basically GoT season 2 Jon Snow at this point in the year, and everyone else knows it. Just say you didn’t ask and you will go find out for them. Easy-peasy.

Intern Jon Snow


  1. Thou shalt Read Every Day

This should be a no brainer. Choose a resource like UptoDate that you can get on your phone and read about your patients during any down time you get (walking between patient rooms, waiting on the attending to get to rounds, ect). This will also be a nice refresher before undergoing the onslaught of pimp questions during rounds.

uptodate intern

Reading intermittently for such short periods of time might not seem useful at first. However, you will be amazed at how much information you can get through during your morning trip to “the office” in that secluded third floor bathroom you found.


  1. Thou shalt Stay Positive

    Ron Burgandy Intern

Intern year universally sucks, and it is important to vent your frustration amongst  your peers to prevent you from imploding. However, there is a fine line between venting and being that one guy (or gal for all my PC peeps out there) who is always negative.

And let’s be real, no one likes being around that guy.

Negativity has a habit of compounding on itself and it is a vicious downhill spiral. Vent to your friends when you hang out after work if you need to; otherwise, try to keep it classy during business hours.


  1. Thou shalt Be a Team Player

teamwork internThere is a saying in my wife’s first grade classroom, “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit”.

Having the ER page you just minutes before shift change might be the worst thing imaginable. Some residents will choose to conveniently adjust the time of the page so it goes over to the night team.

Don’t be that guy. This goes for more than just admits as well: Social issues, family discussions, calling consults, et.

Finish up any loose ends before hand-off or, if you have to, stay late to finish. Do not punt your work onto your peers. They will be more likely to do the same for you in the future.


  1. Thou shalt Look it up Before Asking for Help

You probably won’t understand this one until after you are done with intern year. Your upper level residents are there to help and assist you in figuring out how to best manage patients. Uppers act as a sound board and a safety net for interns to prevent mistakes. However, this can, and does, get taken advantage of.

Do your best to find the answer to questions you may have before running to your upper for help as this is part of the learning process. And feel free to run what you found by them, to make sure that it is correct, before putting in the order. There are many things that Uppers won’t expect you to know and are fine helping you in any way that they can.

Just remember to use them PRN and not for every little question you have. Your upper level is not you own personal Siri, and you are perfectly capable of, and expected to be able to look up the dosage of Co-reg on your own.

searching intern




Stay tuned for Part 2….

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Current PGY-2 Family Medicine resident at a Full-Spectrum FM residency program in the south. Fitness enthusiast, Investor, Husband, and future father come October 2018.


Current PGY-2 Family Medicine resident at a Full-Spectrum FM residency program in the south. Fitness enthusiast, Investor, Husband, and future father come October 2018.

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