“A lot of people make this last hurdle to be this awful, miserable experience. All the politics, the constant brown-nosing of your seniors, having to worry about solving MCQs for your pg exam instead of studying, and getting paid in peanuts every month does sound terrible. But I personally believe everything is about perspective. The internship year is also a steep learning curve, with a spectrum of rotations from Internal medicine with its broad gamut of pathology and procedures and long hours of rounding with consultants after having drawn 50 blood samples, Obstetrics with the bundle of new information and the occasional yelling, and Surgery where you’re basically a retractor monkey in the OR.

Yet reflecting back on the good old internship days, I realized that it wasn’t an easy road, but it was one that I am so happy I did. Interestingly enough and contrary to popular opinion, I made it through that challenging time without experiencing additional anxiety, despair,  social isolation, the need for treatment, or any other disasters. Was it difficult? Certainly! But at the same time, extremely rewarding and eye-opening. It helped me realize my priorities and answered the existential question of whether it is really worth it! The key to surviving an internship while working in an overburdened, under-resourced system like ours is BALANCE- having the right people in your corner, being proactive in maintaining your mental health, and prioritizing healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise. In the midst of completing my internship in the worst first months of the pandemic while juggling exams and trying to boost social recognition to impress attendings, I managed to fit in some favorite moments like having coffee and fritters with friends in the middle of night shifts at 3 am or early morning breakfast at 6 am, before rushing to the wards again. My off days and lighter shifts were reserved for everything I didn’t have time to do during the week like running errands, shopping, talking to family back home, going out with friends, or simply enjoying some personal time.

A patient will only be admitted to the hospital in a serious condition a few times throughout their lifetime. We spend practically every day as doctors in such an atmosphere. The events that we perceive to be ordinary are frequently the most unforgettable and painful days of their lives. That is why it is all the more important to take good care of your physical and mental health as internship is only the first hurdle to a substantial mountain ahead of us, representing the next few years of arduous training that I am about to enter in 2 months.”

  • Dr. Mannat Kaur Bhatia,

Incoming PGY-1 Internal Medicine

“The culmination of the 4.5 years of medicine ultimately lead every aspiring student to the final hurdle: Internship. I think it’s safe to say that after years of sitting in classrooms and listening to never ending lectures and going through some of the toughest exams ever, most medical students look forward to this final hurdle where they not only get to learn but a true taste of what it’s like to become a doctor.  Like most of these students, I was incredibly excited too to embark onto a new journey  and a different phase of my medical education. A new phase and a new journey.  One where I would finally learn what it meant  to be Dr Chetana Rajesh.

But reality seldom matches initial expectations and sadly this was the case here too. The excitement considerably evaporated when I found out that my first posting was going to be community medicine.  Moreover,excitement was replaced with apprehension when I found out that every week meant commuting to a new distant place. In a city where prices of OLA, UBER are constantly skyrocketing and I was unfamiliar with the language, this was a huge challenge.  On the very first day of my internship, where I was supposed to be starting out my journey as a doctor, I found myself overcome with apprehension and worry which once again made me feel like a student just starting out. And in the evening as I very often have over the past few years, I found myself on the phone calling my  mom to find some shred of stability and to steady my nerves.

That was five weeks ago. And into my fifth week of internship, or almost having gotten through it considering the date today, I have definitely found some if not complete stability.  But what I’ve found most challenging is not finding reaffirmation for my love for medicine ; because honestly, that is what keeps you going. No , the most challenging thing about internship, especially the initial phase, has been adjustment and balance. In a five week span, while I’ve learnt to give injections, handle the OPD and continue to learn, it hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride. Internship has also meant spending the better part of my day commuting via auto/ bus or whatever proves to be the cheapest alternative that day, having contrasting schedules with all my friends but mostly, it’s been the contrast between being free and yet being completely exhausted and not finding time for an exam that I’ve now committed to giving. It’s also been about feeling lonely and wanting to have some time to myself at the same time. I figure from my experience that internship goes beyond being about the long hours and underpaid exhausting work schedule. It is about a fundamental change and transition from a student to a working professional and while the medical aspects of internships are well acknowledged, the challenges of this transition are seldom talked about.

And so when I was asked to contribute to this article with the central theme of lifestyle medicine, it seemed like a good way to explore some of the challenges that are usually drowned out by the excitement of becoming a practicing professional drawing from my own experience. In the end, I conclude this article in the hope that future inspiring interns will give more of a thought to tackling the obstacles with respect to adjustment that come with the transition of being an intern. It is this aspect of internship that bears relevance to lifestyle medicine because after all, we can’t truly prescribe lifestyle changes to patients before finding stability in our own!”

– Dr Chetana Rajesh

SRIHER, Chennai

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