Membership information +44 113 241 0727
Medicolegal advice +44 113 210 4398

The reality of life as an an intern

30 January 2023
Intern member Omarr Edwards reflects on their post-graduate experience during sometimes difficult circumstances.

In everything, use wisdom, or at least that would be the core advice I will offer.
Medicine is a profession we thought had the highest job security; after all, doctors are always in demand, but the reality we see today is different than we initially perceived.

There is a shielding of sorts from when we were medical students versus working postgraduates. Unfortunately, during my early days as a postgrad, I experienced what I called the propagation of 'toxic medicine'. That is promoting an overworked-underpaid agenda masking it with comments such as "do it for the clinical experience" and "well, back in my days, we had it harder than you;" Propagating generalizations such as "doing it only for the money." Having such a start defining your career can affect your morale. So, there is a vast reality difference between life as a medical student and a postgraduate.

There are also periods of extreme exhaustion, particularly after working for long hours and covering black weekend shifts. This usually leaves in its wake questions such as:

Why did I choose medicine?
Do I really want to continue living the rest of my life this way?

Meanwhile, hearing seniors acknowledge the lack of time for personal projects and downtime at this intern stage to other healthcare professionals.

To say that one would only meet hardships and uncertainty while practising would be to lie. Throughout my rotations thus far, I gained the opportunity to meet similar-minded individuals and improved my skill set. Since embarking on this journey, I have come to appreciate that:

Medicine is a profession where learning never ends. During these last few months, I have gained so much more knowledge about the disease process in a different view compared to undergraduate training. Also, learning is not limited to disease processes but how things work in your health system (it will go a long way overall), understanding the limitations of your institution and adapting accordingly.

I experienced difficulties finding intravenous access (supply issues due to COVID), so I got a goodie bag for these difficult moments. Also, learn the patterns of your teams to improve your efficiency and effectiveness - this goes a long way if you must hand in those annoying monthly assessments.

Titles dictated job descriptions, but we are all health professionals and humans. There is an obvious hierarchy in medicine, internally and externally. However, we are working for the greater good of the patients. I have met nurses who worked with many different generations of doctors who have offered knowledge and looked out for my wellbeing during challenging times. Lab staff and radiology technicians who lighten a moment and supply relief. So, it pays to smile occasionally, even beneath a mask.

Lastly, trust yourself and stand for your belief. Confidence is one part of the show, but it is important not to become proud. Taking you back to the start, should I have remained silent in that situation, maybe the circumstances would not have changed. Respectfully express your opinions but remember to listen.

Enjoy your journey and in everything, use wisdom.