My most recent rotation on internal medicine emphasized the importance of working on a team, which is an integral part of residency. The team not only consists of you, the residents and the attending, but it also includes nurses, social workers, the pharmacist and other consulting teams.
Ideally, team members should interact with each other in a professional and respectful manner. It’s even better if the team gets along and enjoys each other’s company. This was particularly true with the teams I was on.
My residents pointed out that we might as well have a good time since we’re going to be at the hospital all day (12+ hours). This mentality made the rotation flow easily. Despite the long hours at the hospital, I looked forward to working with my team and seeing my patients. As our positive attitudes became apparent to everybody, our good spirits became contagious. Our patients were happy to see us and were receptive to our ideas. It was easy to establish rapport with patients and I had genuine interactions with them. I appreciated patients allowing me to get to know them better so I could better understand their history and what brought them to the hospital, experiences which enhanced my education.
As a team member, my role was not to stand on the sidelines and watch, but to actively participate. The residents patiently walked me step by step through what I could do to help the team and before long, I was functioning like a resident. I was putting in orders, adjusting medication dosages, and writing discharge summaries. I quickly realized how overloaded residents are; between seeing patients, writing notes and doing everything else, the phone is ringing off the hook, a nurse is asking about the patient having a possible drug reaction to the medication just given, and a medical student is pestering about a mundane question. Despite the sometime-chaotic moments, everyone on the team explained things to me and made sure I was learning. They gave me regular feedback because they wanted me to do well and be the best that I could be. It was a bonus that I had a great time being in the hospital.
Unfortunately, not every team you work on will function like a well-oiled machine. But that’s fine as long as you focus on your main objective: to learn. Always show up at the hospital with the attitude that you want to learn as much as possible. Even if you think you will not be going into that specialty, you should still focus on learning because you will use that knowledge at some point in your life.
It doesn’t matter what rotation you are on, because the team will always be a central theme. Hopefully at the end of the day, you’ll learn a few things, have a few laughs, and make a few friends.