I recently completed my acting internship (or sub internship) in medicine. The rotation is very similar to the third year internal medicine rotation, but with more patients, more responsibility, and the title of “fake” intern.
It was admittedly an exhausting month, with long hours and barely enough time to sleep. But, it was a very necessary part of preparing for residency.
The biggest learning curve for me was putting in orders (for medications, labs, tests, etc). I originally didn’t think much of it because it seemed simple – figure out what you need and then order it.
But once I started, I quickly realized how subjective and tricky everything can be. For example – repleting potassium. This is a staple of the medical wards and generally considered to be pretty simple – patient has low potassium; give them some more.
But after putting in the order, I could not help but wonder – what if the lab was wrong? What if I misread the number? What if I gave too much? What if I gave too little? What if I ordered the wrong type of potassium? What if they had some other condition that contraindicates potassium? What if they have an allergic reaction? When should I recheck their level? And the list goes on and on.
These are the subtleties to medicine that I never realized during my third year. And it has made me appreciate how much doctors actually need to know in order to practice medicine. It has also taught me so much about topics that I thought I had already mastered.