If you end up in the hospital this upcoming Sunday, you may notice that some of the doctors look young, really young. That’s because this Sunday is July 1st and that is the first day of internship for all the doctors who finished medical school in June.
I’ll never forget my first day of internship. I was 27 years old but looked about 15. I was assigned to the “Blue Team” at the University Hospital in Salt Lake City. My chief resident (that’s a resident in their last year of training) was Dr. Karen Cartwright (now a pediatric surgeon in Arizona) and the second year resident was Dr. Richard Barton (now a surgical critical care specialist in Utah). We also had a couple of third year medical students on the team. We were supervised by 4 attending surgeons.
Despite all the great training in medical school at the University of Washington with a lot of “hands on” experience, I was terrified that first day of really being a doctor. I remember introducing myself the “Blue Team” patients and having many of them tell me that I could not possibly be old enough to be a doctor (or at least their doctor). I remember Karen Cartwright being so kind and helpful and Dr. Richard Barton showing me ropes of “scut work” which includes things like drawing blood, starting IVs, changing dressings, taking out stitches, etc. And I remember that first night on call when I ordered some Mylanta for a patient with an upset stomach. I was so afraid that the patient would have a violent adverse reaction to this over-the-counter medication. Both the patient and I survived my first night of call.
So – if you are in the hospital on July 1st and a child in a white coat and stethascope introduces him or herself as your doctor, be assured that they have been training for years for this day and please don’t tell them how young they look. It will just make them nervous.
Thanks for reading! Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder