July 1. In the medical world, this date marks an enormous transition, as newly minted physicians begin their residency training.
This internship year is one of the most intense periods of medical education, as residents learn to navigate new responsibilities, a clinical — and administrative — learning curve, and increased demands on their time. But it is also a period of excitement and opportunity, a chance to discover who they are as a physician and how they will translate what matters to them into their life’s work.
In this feature, established physicians — all models of the Gold Foundation’s mission of humanistic healthcare — share words of wisdom for new residents.
How lucky are your patients to benefit from your smarts and kindness?
Dear interns: We are so, so happy to welcome you as new doctors! How lucky are your colleagues to learn from you, to learn with you, and to have the privilege to teach you in this next stage of your journey? How lucky are your patients to benefit from your smarts and kindness? As you make this leap, it’s sometimes hard to remember that all we expect from you on your first day is to be exactly who you are, to know just what you know, to do only what you know how to do, to try hard, and to ask for help early and often. That’s what will make you trustworthy and that’s what will keep you balanced. Congratulations!
Jonathan Amiel, MD
Professor and Senior Associate Dean
Office of Innovation in Health Professions Education
Columbia University | Irving Medical Center | Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons
10 Rules of Intern Year
1. Show up.
2. Do your best.
3. Listen to the nurses.
4. Don’t lie.
5. Put the patient first.
6. Do fun stuff when you’re off.
7. Cry when you need to.
8. Laugh out loud when you need to.
9. Eat lunch and take the stairs.
10. Care like it’s yo’ mama.
Kimberly D. Manning, MD, FACP, FAAP
Professor of Medicine and
Associate Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Emory University Department of Medicine
Trustee, Gold Foundation
Believe in the compassion you have to offer…
It is during internship that we truly accept our being called into the medical profession. It is here that we paint our personal and professional picture as physicians, and it is here that we further define our own vision of the humanistic practice of medicine.
My advice is simple: believe in yourself and in the journey that brought you to this point in your life. Believe in the compassion you have to offer, the kindness you bring to each day, the understanding you quickly show, and the empathy that is so much a part of who you are.
You will seek excellence in all you do, and you will sometimes realize how much more you have to learn. You will be tired and you will be frustrated, but you will also find a well spring of humanism that will sustain and nurture you.
And remember to look around for those who wear the small gold GHHS pin. Please know that all of us who have gone before are here to support and care about you.
Linda C. Stone, MD
Special Assistant to the Dean for Humanism and Professionalism
Emeritus Faculty, Department of Family Medicine
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
We can all become much better doctors if we learn a bit from the poets.
If you spend five fewer minutes reading NEJM, I can promise you that you won’t kill off any patients. But if you can squeeze in five minutes of Chekhov, or Brahms, or Degas, or even the great sayings of Yogi Berra, you might be able to stay more fully engaged with the larger world during internship.
In his famous poem, “Gaudeamus Igitur,” the poet and cardiologist John Stone wrote: “For you will learn to see most acutely out of the corner of your eye, to hear best with your inner ear.” These are the ways that poets and artists view the world. We can all become much better doctors if we learn a bit from the poets.
Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Attending Physician, Bellevue Hospital
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Bellevue Literary Review
It’s OK to ask for help and support when needed.
As you care for and give your best to your patients, please remember to prioritize your own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It’s OK to ask for help and support when needed. Reach out to a friend, family member or even a member of the Gold Foundation family! Best wishes!
Olapeju Simoyan, MD, MPH, BDS, FASAM, FAAFP
Founding Executive Director of Research, Fran and Doug Tieman Center for Research at Caron Treatment Center
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine
Don’t take the credit — and you don’t have to take the blame.
What I wish someone had told me about internship…
Here are a few tips which I learned from my mentors and savvy residents:
- Don’t take the credit — and you don’t have to take the blame. Just do the best you can and always learn honestly from your successes and failures.
- Take the time to eat during the day and exercise during the week even if time is tight. It will keep you fueled and ultimately more productive.
- In times of crisis, breathe deeply and be brave about asking for help when necessary.
- Select a quiet location where you can center yourself when things are crazy.
- Find mentors who share your views and values and ask to meet with them periodically. (This is invariably a delight rather than a burden for mentors.)
- Stay connected with friends and family even if it is only a bit at a time.
Internship will pass so hold on tight to who you are and who you wish to become.
Howard Silverman, MD, MS
Professor, Departments of Biomedical Informatics, Family & Community Medicine, and Bioethics & Medical Humanism
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
Think about what will be your “humanism booster shot.”
Congratulations on beginning what will be an amazing journey as a new physician. You are about to experience the immense privilege of taking care of patients who are looking to you for healing and care. With all the rewards that this will bring, you are also bound to experience obstacles, challenges, frustrations, and threats to your ideals of what it means to be a physician. In these moments, think about what will be your “humanism booster shot.” This can be a conversation with a mentor, writing a poem, creating art, family time, bonding with colleagues, or anything that gives you a reminder of the humanistic ideals that guided you towards a career in medicine.
Scott Shaffer, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics (Adolescent Health)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Immediate Past Chair, Gold Humanism Honor Society Advisory Council
You belong exactly where you are.
Residency is an amazing journey. You may be startled the first time you hear “Doc!” and you look around to see who it is before realizing that it is YOU. Take that moment to acknowledge the years of hard work you have put in to earn this moment. You belong exactly where you are.
Your peers will become friends and then eventually family. They will be your sounding board on the days when you question why you went into medicine. Acknowledge those feelings and give yourself the space to reflect. Listen to your internal cues and do not be afraid to ask for help. It is a sign of humility and not weakness. Finally, take the time to understand the patient in front of you, as this may prove to be your antidote to burnout.
Taranjeet Kalra Ahuja, DO, MSEd
Assistant Professor of Science Education
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Faculty, Communication Skills & Pediatrics
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
1. See a donut, eat a donut.
Not literally, although it can be hard to pass up a free donut. What I really mean is that you should take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during your training. Ask your attending physician if you could write a case report about that interesting and unusual patient presentation. Sit next to someone you don’t know in the doctor’s lounge. Volunteer for a committee in your program, GME office, or specialty society. Get involved — you will meet many friendly, interesting, and smart people who will enrich your life professionally and personally.
2. Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t forget to do the other things in your life that will let you thrive over the course of your residency. Get enough rest, eat well, exercise, stay in touch with your family and friends, go to the dentist… Residency can be so intense, so engaging, and even so much fun that you can forget to do all these other important things.
3. Change your socks at least once a day.
Back in the day, we regularly worked 36-hour shifts, and sometimes longer. After a night of call, arriving to morning rounds wearing yesterday’s dirty scrubs, socks and underwear was rough. Starting the day wearing clean clothes felt respectful and energizing. It’s no different today — get in the habit of arriving to work every day fully prepared to learn, teach, and do your best for your patients and their families.
Gregory Cherr, MD
Professor of Surgery, Senior Associate Dean for GME
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo- SUNY
Chair, Gold Humanism Honor Society Advisory Council
Trustee, Gold Foundation
Our role is sacred; it is to witness, to guide, to allow transformation.
If you allow yourself to believe, as I once did, that your only role is to CURE, you will have difficulty finding meaning on the difficult days. The days when we have no cure, no treatment. The days when the treatments fail, or simply don’t exist. Our role is so much larger than that. Though medicine has a habit of valuing heroics, the truth is that your humanity is far more important than any imaginary heroism. Our role is sacred; it is to witness, to guide, to allow transformation. There will be so many moments when you have nothing available to offer but your presence. Trust that it is enough.
Rana Awdish, MS, MD, FACP, FCCP
Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program
Medical Director of Care Experience
Clinical Professor of Medicine
MSU College of Human Medicine
2019 Jordan J. Cohen Humanism in Medicine Lecturer at the AAMC
See more wonderful advice for PGY-1s in our Golden Glimmer gallery.