I am currently an intern in a 5-year urology program. Being an intern doesn’t always feel amazing, even if you love the specialty that you’re in. You don’t know that much, you work a ton of hours, you’re not autonomous (sometimes you can’t even give a patient a liter of fluid without telling your senior resident), and you’re the low person on the totem pole. Despite all of these negatives, being an intern is still awesome because you are finally a doctor.
Medical school was enjoyable, but I didn’t love a lot of aspects of being a medical student because I often did not have a real role in the clinical setting. I joined teams in various specialties during my third and fourth year rotations and often wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I knew in the back of my mind that I was not needed on the team; they could function without me. The best medical school moments for me were when I felt truly useful to a team, whether it was calling a consult or spending an hour with a patient, counseling and comforting them (because, as student, I had the most time out of the team).
During my intern year, even though my role is limited, I have a defined role, a purpose. I think that’s one of the best parts of being a resident. I definitely work harder than I did as a medical student and I almost never get sent home early. But so far, I’ve been enjoying residency so much more than medical school. My favorite part of being an intern is being able to truly connect with patients and be their doctor. Even though I get stretched pretty thin as an intern, the best moments of the day are when I can spend some extra time in a patient’s room getting to know them, communicating the plan to them, or answering their questions.
It was incredibly weird when I first introduced myself as Dr. Chang to my patients. It didn’t sound right coming out of my mouth. I still don’t really feel like a doctor, especially since I was a student just a few months ago. But more and more, I’m feeling more comfortable as an actual doctor. Even though the patients are technically my attending’s patients, I am developing a sense of ownership. I realized that for myself, if I don’t have a sense of ownership, I’m not as good of a physician. I am more attentive, focused, and caring when these patients are my patients.
So far, residency has had its ups and downs but I’m extremely happy to finally be a doctor. It is truly a privilege and I often go home, despite being exhausted, very thankful that I have come this far. I hope I don’t lose this sense of awe and wonder of being a physician even as I advance in my training because it does really feel special knowing that I’m serving patients and impacting their lives, even in small ways.
About Edward Chang, MD
Edward Chang is a Co-founder and Director of Operations of ProspectiveDoctor.com. He is currently a urology resident at University of Washington. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. He is a die-hard Lakers and Bruins fan and loves Korean food.