Day in the Life of a Resident & Core Attributes: Internal Medicine

Residency Application Specialists

Internal Medicine Residency is demanding and varied. Whilst you will understand the area, and will have shadowed, it’s still vital to understand what life will be like as a first year resident – and what attributes you need to emphasise at interview therefore.

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Day in the Life of an Internal Medicine Resident

Expect to be awake around 5.30am, getting ready for the day ahead. You’ll typically reach the hospital by 6am, and be on the ward discussing cases with the night team just afterwards.

6am-7am: Expect to review patients’ charts and look through updates from the night team. There may be input from consultants or other residents who were part of the night team. You will need to order morning labs and workups as appropriate, and make notes on any significant developments during the night. It may also be worthwhile to consider which patients are likely to be ready for discharge, so that this can be expedited later in the day.

Expect to begin rounds during this hour, and for these to then continue.

7am: Rounding patients and looking at charts. You will likely need to request more investigations for some patients, speak to colleagues about others, and make notes of what to ask your attending for others still. This will continue until 8am.

8am: Education. Here, residents will present a case of particular interest to others. You will be both required to present to others in due course, and answer questions on cases. This period can therefore be a little stressful at first, but expect to get used to it in due course, and see it as just another part of your day.

9am – midday: Rounds. You will have a varied caseload, and this can prove tiring as you try to learn and cover the breadth of different presentations in the amount of detail required for a resident.

12-7pm: Varied tasks including admin. Don’t expect an easy afternoon – you will likely face a rushed lunch before having to get back to dealing with patients, their families, and attendings. Typical requests made of you will include speaking to families about their loved one’s case, calling attendings to make medication adjustments or understand the rationale behind an adjustment, and investigating delays or changes made to patients’ procedures. You will also likely need to check on some new admissions, with or without the assistance of more senior team-members. As part of this, expect to receive sign-outs from other teams in the hospital – this should be relatively mundane, but can include patients who require some degree of stabilisation.

7-8pm. Get ready to handover to the night team and sign out your patients. At this point you’ve been in the hospital for more than 12 hours, and seen a very varied range of patients. You are likely tired, and it’s therefore vital to remain focused and ensure that your work is efficient. You’ll soon find yourself making neat, effective hand-overs with all communication focused only on what needs to be said, and all important information conveyed effectively.

8pm-bed. Time for dinner and some learning alongside other residents. You must do your utmost to stay on top of educational needs alongside the long days – most find this simpler if they work with others and keep each other accountable to some degree.

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Core Attributes of Internal Medicine Residents

Internal Medicine involves long hours and varied cases. You must therefore be adaptable and highly resilient. These are perhaps the two attributes that it is worth considering above all else. Adaptability will ensure that you are able to deal with seeing different cases, then presenting over your lunch, before spending the afternoon speaking to families about cases – all without breaking your stride. The long hours and sheer demand of the role – with the internal medicine resident having to cover a significant number of cases – can be overwhelming, and it’s therefore vital that you are resilient and ready to face this head on. As well as reflecting on adaptability and resilience before the interview, ensure that you are able to reflect and discuss your teamworking, which will be vital as you liaise with other residents, attendings, and healthcare professionals throughout the long, arduous days.

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