Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Glorious Things Interns Do

1. Clean cupboards.
2. Bring tea, coffee, food for the senior docs.
3. Take senior doctors' family members to the dentist.
4. Basically, make senior doctors' family members feel important, show them around, do their work for them, so that your senior looks good.
5. Go to the bank and finish your seniors' work for them.
6. Fill forms. Tons and tons. Since seniors are too high and mighty to fill theirs themselves.
7. Accompany patients everywhere. Since they will otherwise get lost and some time will be wasted. An intern's time on the other hand is obviously worthless.
8. Beg all the time. For X-rays to be done, USGs to be done, investigations to be done, reports to be given, appointments to be given. Beg for syringes, needles, bulbs, gloves. Beg, haggle, fight, steal, scream, weep. Whatever it takes to get the job done quickly. (Though of course, all this should actually be getting done all by itself, as a basic requirement for any hospital to function).
9. Suck up to everyone, from the mama to the sweeper to the nurse to the resident doctors to the HOUs to the Dean.
10. Put up with flirting and ogling housies (exclusive to female interns).
11. Arrange for alcohol etc. for your residents (exclusive to male interns).
12. Trace reports. Although they should never require tracing in a fully functional hospital. 
13. Make phone calls from your cellphone for your seniors' work.
14. Scan books and textbooks for your seniors.
15. Check and tally the department's accounts for your seniors.
16. Find the X-rays or files or reports your seniors lost. 
17. Never learn a thing.
18. Never treat a patient.
19. Never question your seniors.
20. Put up with the sisters being mean to you all the time (I confess there have been occasions when they've left me close to tears with their unnecessary and uncalled for meanness).

From mkk:
21. Shoot and develop X-rays.
22. Forge prescriptions under some other Dept HOD's name.
23. Find pillow for the lecturer to rest on.
24. Help the medical instruments supplier extract money from BMC so that they get few thousand rupees of commission.
25. Take night ward rounds and write CM notes as the housemen are too busy (read lazy) to take themselves.
26. Get the tube lights fixed!
27. Renewal of medical registration.

From Tangled up...:
28. Pick up the housie's laundry and deposit it in her room.
29. Count the number of functioning and non-functioning ventilators in the ICU and write down the names of the companies as well as who donated the money needed to buy them.
30. Go to the new hospital building from the old to call the registrar because the intercom wasn't working (God forbid, they actually have to use their mobile phones!)
31. Count the number of tables and chairs in three wards.
32. Pick up lunch order from a restaurant because the restaurant had no one to deliver it.
33. Spread a bed sheet on the bed in the doctor's room in the Emergency so the lecturer can sleep on it.

All this donkey work we do isn't going to help us in any way as a doctor, or as an individual. Our seniors aren't even going to thank us for it, or acknowledge our existence once we've finished doing their work. It's just going to be time we wasted in our life. Zero benefit. The only way it helps is that they HAVE to give us the sign on the log book at the end of your posting. Since we did all their donkey work. Interns just want the sign, seniors just want their work done. So no one complains.

Some people seem to think that the PG doctors are so overworked, it's no crime if they shed some of their workload onto the interns. But I beg to differ. As PG students, they worked hard, got admission into college, and are now going to spend the next three years becoming doctors. This is a part of their deal. They're getting paid for this. It's part of their job profiles, and it will help their patients. (Yes, the very ones they actually get to treat). Their seniors will teach them, and help them in their careers, if they do their jobs well. And they better do it well! But is it really a part of an intern's job profile to do their seniors' donkey work?

As medical interns in a government hospital, we're supposed to get a hands-on experience in treating patients, and improving our medical knowledge, we're supposed to be developing skills, not doing our seniors' work for them so that their lives are easier (while they never give a thought to our lives).

Frankly, dear seniors, we don't even mind doing your donkey work, since we are the junior most in the hierarchy, but at least we should be taught something once in a while. Don't look at us like hungry leeches, with the only thought in your head when you see an intern being how to extract the most from them and get the highest amount of dumb work done from them. We've finished medical school, the least you can do is treat us with some respect. Like, maybe remember we are now your colleagues? Ever heard of the words 'please', and 'thank you'? If you're asking us to do your personal work, at least ask politely! Ever thought that you should maybe do your job once in a while which includes teaching us something? Rather than just thinking hard and inventing work for the intern every time you see one sitting ideal? Hope you get the message someday. Till then I'll just go back to living the frustrating life of an intern.

P.S. My ongoing orthopedics rotation is turning out to be a nightmare. Though this post may seem a bit extreme to some, I swear all of it is true, especially as far as this one rotation is concerned.

P.P.S. Feel free to add to my list of 'The Glorious Things Interns Do'. I will be updating the list as your comments come in.


  1. i so agree especially with the mean staff and nurses part!they have brought me near tears a lot of times and sometimes also unearthed the vengeance I never knew I was capable of having,but they so deserve it!!
    Also add-the way the resis can expect us to leave our food or sleep in d middle just 2 shoo away some patient they don't want to see coz they want to eat and sleep gloriously!!i have done that so many times that i threw away all the food!

  2. 1)Shoot and develop Xrays.
    2)Forge prescriptions under some other dept HOD's name.
    3)Find pillow for the lect. to rest on.
    4)Help the medical instruments supplier extract money from BMC so that they get few thousand rupees of commission.
    5)Take night ward rounds and write CM notes as the housemen are too busy (read lazy) to take themselves.
    6)Get the tubelights fixed!
    7)Renewal of medical registration.
    ...and this was just a day's work.

  3. hehehe... as I was telling you, life ain't that much better for foundation years in the UK, except we don't have to worry about the running of the hospital (most of the time anyways! you never know what new 'this will help improve the system' gimmick the politicians have up their sleeves for the NHS!).. my sympathies to you and all the other interns. waste of time whilst IN HOSPITAL is a really, really annoying thing.. and if I can gauge this feeling as a medical student (both in the UK and India), I can only imagine how much worse it must be for qualified doctors! i've recently re-learned how a good doctor is a good teacher, both to his patiebts in explaining their medical procrss tothem and to his juniors in passing on knowledge and inormation to help.others become better doctors. seeing good and crappy doctors just makes me more determied to teach and help all my juniors!:)

  4. this is ur one post im nt gonna like..solely coz its so freakin true,its actually sad! and u kno its ortho posting,workin under you- kno- who that totally makes u feel disillusioned wid intershit...sometimes i feel,this is like a phase we need to survive to prove we can actually handle the shitness life as a doctor wid hounding relatives,patient demands,injustice in d workplace etc..dont u think..or mayb im jus tryin too hard to b optimistic..lol...but dude some residents gotta do worse work than us..this one had to call up the telephone company to get the hod's phone bill sorted..kimda sad methinks..yeah bt either way,ur bang on...

  5. Hey nikshi, see, that's exactly what I am saying, I know even the residents have to their part of the shitty work, but the fact that they're getting to learn something otherwise at least makes up for that. Makes it bearable or excusable, you know? It's nothing like that for us :(

    I like your optimism, maybe tomorrow, even I'll wake up a bit more optimistic :)

  6. :) More than half the stuff on that list is either untrue or exaggerated. I've gone through the same internship. If you've been reduced to a slave then frankly, you don't know how to deal with difficult people.
    This article in addition to the some of the coverage of the Intern's strike is simply a dramatic version of the truth. I'm assuming a lot of non-medicos read your blog. Don't mislead them.

    P.S. If you haven't already befriended the nurses then you've committed the biggest mistake of working in a hospital. Be nice to them, they're your best allies.

  7. @Vishvas: I swear none of the things in this list are false or exaggerated, you are free to ask any intern ever posted in ANP unit in ortho and verify it for yourself. Not that I care about whether or not you believe what I wrote.

    I don't know what happened to you during your internship, but I don't believe in making things up just to sensationalize my blog.

    I don't know how to deal with difficult people, I agree to that. That's just the kind of person I am. No reason to pass any kind of judgement.

    I don't want to develop skills in dealing with difficult people, and I don't want to befriend nurses. I am not a friendly person. If I don't irritate the nurses unnecessarily, and just do my job, I expect them to return the favor. I am not the kind of person who will be fake nice and friendly with people just so that they will help me. I can't do such things. And I don't think this is what we should be learning or achieving during our internship.

    Unlike you, and most people, I find it extremely difficult to just befriend random strangers.

    This article is my commentary on my ongoing internship, and everyone is free to express their views regarding the same, but I don't think this calls for your comments on the kind of person I am and whether or not I know how to deal with people.

    And I don't write this blog for my readers, I write it for myself. I write the truth. You may have loved your internship, and learnt a lot during it, but I haven't, and this is my blog, not yours.

    I don't think the internships in India are useful to medical students in any way, and I want to change that and create awareness about that. If we don't ask for a change, the change will never come.

  8. Vishwas just got his a$$ handed to him !

  9. i agree with vishvas or let me paraphrase it - More than half the stuff on that "list" is either exaggerated or I havnt done it or made to do it. I am going through the same internship. If you've been reduced to a slave then frankly, you don't know how to deal with difficult people.If you haven't already befriended the nurses then you've committed the biggest mistake of working in a hospital. Be nice to them, they're your best allies.
    sincerely .. i would complain on 7th, 8th nd 12th points and blood collection work (though imp nd required) ! and if you are doing the other stuff mentioned .. better find escape routes

  10. Holy shit! Go violet (??!) :o
    Hell hath no fury...

  11. @Muzzammil: Obviously you were not posted in ANP, every ANP intern has to do these, there are no escape routes. Right now ANP has one of the most stubborn( when it comes to doing things that are not usually demanded from us) interns of all times and he is reduced to a personal errands boy.

  12. @Muzammil: What did you achieve by reposting half of Vishvas's comment, when I already replied to it. Did you even read my reply?

    For, the last time, Yes, I don't know how to deal with difficult people, forgive me for that, and let's move on.

    I repeat, for the third time, that we are being made to do all the things on the list. If you read the comments above Vishvas's you will find other interns agreeing as well.

    You suggest escape routes, I am more than eager to try them out.

  13. Aayushi - I read your post on the interns and more so on the strike. I was there when it happened, where it happened.. I am not a medic, and I got nothing to gain out of it - but for the benefit of all non-medics - ITS ALL TRUE!! I really appreciate your covering the strike.

    Vishwas - I dont know if you were there, but maybe you should have been there when medics were detained in the police station and so on. These arent just my observations, but even that of many more credible people that I know.

    As far as making frenz go - I agree you gotta make them everywhere to make your life easy and get through the tough times - but where's the meritocracy gone. The people out there are doctors, or to be one. I guess they deserve much more and much better.

  14. totally agree wid u aayushi.internship is turning out to be worse than i thought.most of the time in addition to doing 'our job' we have to run around doing the (lazy)housie's job.whats even more ridiculous is that they expect us to work just like them, but they do not understand that they chose to take that seat and now they are working to get a pg degree.where as we have to study so that we can get a seat too!!

  15. @Aayushi:
    Firstly, I apologize if it sounded like I was questioning or insulting or judging the kind of person you are. I wasn't.

    I was simply trying to point out that, as "mkk" (Who I'm guessing is Mufaddal) pointed out, that most of these "duties" that you've listed may be characteristic of the Orthopaedic rotation you're currently in, but they aren't general or continuous phenomenon. You ran into a tough supervisor. Hard luck. Considering that your supervisor changes every month or so during internship, it's hardly surprising that you don't always have a senior who caters to your every need. In any working hierarchy, running small errands from time to time for your senior is part of the job description. Yes, there is a limit and yes, you must work that out with your supervisor but don't tell your non-medico friends that internship is pointless because they have no idea how a hospital works and will believe everything you say. You can learn everything you want as long as you're sure about what it is that you want from your internship. There are loads of seniors always ready to teach or help you out. Maybe you haven't found them yet. Maybe you aren't looking. Whatever the case is I do not deny that the current scenario does leave a lot to be desired and things must change. Just make sure the voice of change is absolutely true.

    And forgive me if I'm wrong but I think being nice to people, learning to deal with difficult people and "befriending random strangers" might help you create a little thing called patient-doctor rapport. But that's just me.

    A little background. I was part of the quota strike a few years back and got beaten up and chased by the cops. So I do know what I'm talking about.
    I don't know about the condition of interns in other colleges, so I'll only speak about Nair. I was told by enough people that a lot of interns who supposed to be fasting weren't. And making statements like "we work for 8 hours a day" isn't true, atleast for Nair interns.

    Thank you Muzzamil for getting what I was trying to say.

    Thank you and Good night.

  16. @Vishvas: Thank you, this is more of the kind of comment I expect from you.

    If you notice, I have clearly mentioned in the post that most of this is true regarding my one current rotation.

    Also I do not believe that I have any kind of responsibility towards upholding the image of the Indian medical system in front of my non-medical friends. If all this is actually happening, I am going to write about it. I blog first for myself and then for anyone else.

    I don't want "seniors who cater to my every need". I just want them to, basically, act like sensible human beings.

    I agree that there are good seniors as well, of course there are, but they are mostly the minority. Most of them are just plain indifferent.

    I realize that what you are trying to protest against is my portrayal of Doctors and the Indian medical system, but then, this is my blog, I may be an overly pessimistic person with regards to my profession and that may be reflecting on the blog. That's the way it is. You can't supervise over content on blogs all over the world and neither can you expect people to think about their responsibilities towards the community before blogging. Those may be the ethics in print journalism, blogging does not have such ethics.

    I don't think about what I am portraying before blogging, I just blog my mind out. Blogging is a means for personal expression, so obviously there will be people who won't agree with my opinions, but on my blog, I will say whatever I feel like saying, without worrying about what others are going to think.

    You could always portray the positive side of internship through your blog, and I will definitely not be there at the time, telling you that what you write is untrue. There are many facets to this, I choose to portray the one which has affected me the most. Others are free to portray whatever they want to portray. It's a free world.

    In fact, I am open to guest posts on my blog, so you are most welcome to counteract any or all of my posts and my portrayal of medical internship with your own version of it, I will publish it on my blog, and then maybe my readers will read your side of the story as well. Think about it, since this is troubling you so much. I am definitely open to the idea.

    I also promise you that whenever anything good happens to me in my internship, I will blog about it. I have already written quite a few positive posts on this blog, which you don't seem to have noticed, you can check them out for yourself.

    Each of my blog posts reflects the an ongoing phase in my internship.

    I only have the freedom to write about what happens to me, so the content on this blog is a direct reflection of that.

    You really don't need to worry about what kind of rapport I will be having with my patients.

    Also, for atleast 60% of our internship, we do work for 8 hours per day. if we count the weekly emergency shifts, it amounts to 8 hours per day, six days of the week.

    And anyways, the strike issue was protesting against the huge difference between pays in various states across India, rather than whether or not we deserve to be paid more for the amount of work we are doing. I believed, and I still believe, that it was a very valid issue, and so I gave my full support to the strike, and writing about it was a way to create awareness and to build momentum.

    Thank you for your comments, they just might reflect in my future posts.

  17. Odd stuff I've done in internship so far, and it's just been like four months! :D

    1) Pick up housie's laundry and deposit it in her room.

    2) Count the number of functioning and non-functioning ventilators in the ICU and write down the names of the companies as well as who donated the money needed to buy them.

    3) Go to the new hospital building from the old to call the registrar becoz the intercomm wasn't working (God forbid, they actually have to use their mobile phones!)

    4) Count the number of tables and chairs in three wards.

    5) Pick up lunch order from a restaurant becoz the restaurant had no one to deliver it.

    6) Spread a bedsheet on the bed in the doctor's room in the Emergency so the lecturer can sleep on it.

    Wow, I'm starting to feel more and more like a glorified housemaid who gets paid a lot less than a regular housemaid!

    I know about dignity of labour and all that but this is ridiculous!

  18. Nice profile... you actually summed up all of our work.... Great job

  19. @vishwas: I'd start by saying you sounded utterly rude, inconsiderate towards the author of the post. Whatever valid points you may have had in your argument seemed vain in comparison to your refusal to understand what a fellow intern has gone through.

    Yes, interns are made to work like personal assistants. There's no other way to put it. It doesn't matter if its restricted to one particular rotation or whether it happens throughout the year. What matters is that we're mistreated, abused, under-appreciated & overworked. "Over worked" because we end up doing trivial jobs that aren't in our job description by any stretch of the imagination. I'd like to argue about our working hours. We're paid peanuts for traveling from our homes far away everyday to report for work that can easily be done with the ancillary staff for whom it is meant, or work that is invented spontaneously merely because an intern had the guts to twiddle his thumbs while on duty!

    Medical interns are not meant to enter phone numbers in the residents' phones, not meant to scan endless volumes for the department & definitely not meant to move around dust-bins, clean cupboards.

    The problem we face as a collective unit is that we aren't one! Most of us would rather do trivial jobs, run away quickly, not get shouted at, get our signatures & study peacefully. Noone wants to even question the residents 'cause they fear the backlash of having to do more meaningless work. The other half (me included) believes that we mustn't put up with their crap & there're ways to straighten these residents & lecturers while ensuring that our internship doesn't go up for a toss.

    Aayushi, you've written a witty post & wittier replies to numerous comments. Oh, & by the way, I'm currently trying to make a 2007 excel sheet open on a 2003 compatible computer!! The things we do...

  20. @Eham and Aayushi - I agree completely with your state of mind. I may not have an inside perspective of the medical interns' but as a non-medic, the least I expect is the educated, hard-working docs get some due.

    @Vishwas - I never doubted your credibility towards the medical establishment - nor the commitment to the cause. I was just being objective about my observations about a strike that demanded that the state give the rightful due to the interns. I may be off guard with regards to my opinions, but as an 'over-paid' MBA - i can definitely see merit in the demand of the interns. Maybe the interns werent fasting, maybe they dont work as hard at Nair, maybe they are not good enough to be paid - but what they are definitely good enough for, is to be respected and treated with dignity - which is completely lacking from the Indian Medical System today.

    I might not be the best person to speak on hard work, success, making good in difficult conditions -- but having survived the most momentuous course that is offered in the world, I can definitely say that one of the largest factors to success is institutionalization, support system and mentoring - which is sadly missing. I cannot help but feel sympathetic to the cause of interns nee doctors........

  21. @vishwas - be my guest... cum to my hospital !!! whether ur an intern or not doesnt matter dey ll giv u work if ur seen sum place... we have a medicine dept which has jus one proff one AP n 2 lecturers with a ward admitting 40 patients a day - n yeah sorrry forgot to mention dat der r 2 interns... to add to all dis ur supposed to do all der private work sleep nahi sorry again i noe you want specifics else you will start again soo yeah TRY sleepin in the casualty at d station itself - as OUR DEAN SAys INTERNS R ON DUTY NOT ON CALL...so you cannot go to ur side room n sleep... actually you cant as der are juss too many patientss... all dis for a paltry 2550 minus professional tax... hmmm !! i think you ver verryy lucky dude to have befriended d nurses bt in our case apparently time nahi milta...as we WORK MORE DEN 12 HOURS mate...
    abt d strike - well well ...you would not want to enter into a debate here as to kya chal raha tha n who was actually having a hunger strike...only comment on thins dat u have seen NOT HEARD !!!!
    N yeah if the above post sounded rude - I HAVE DONE VERY WELL IN GETTING IT ACROSS !! :):)

  22. Hey aayushi ! Way to go ! I think uv silenced ur critics fairly well!!
    .. I agree wholeheartedly with what ur saying .. We deserve better !!I dont think we should take any crap from any senior... we're out to become doctors and though I would disagree that internship is pointless, I think you have to work your way up from doing the most basic jobs..but it could teach us so much more if we were taken seriously as future doctors rather than being treated like a peon.

  23. Writing about those fasting during the strike is not fair coz they were the backbone of a very just strike and defaming the cause this way is unacceptable..
    And an intern does works for 6-8 hours a day on an average..who wouldnt agree with that?

  24. @Aayushi: I'm gonna let you in on my 1 and only law of internship: "DON'T LET IT GET TO YOU." Do what it takes. Get your sign. And try not to bug interns when you become a resident.

  25. Till today I regret the day I decided to take up an externship at KEMH. Should've stuck to my parent college. Thought I'd learn something but instead learnt to be a bloodsucking animal, a mama and a resident-hater! Also made me think - is this what we deserve at the end of four and a half years of struggle? The whole system is a bloody farce.

    BMC can choose to hire phlebotomists for each and every fucking ward and leave interns to do some 'quality' work - they're after all the richest (and in all likelihood THE MOST CORRUPT MUNICIPAL BODY ON EARTH!) but NO - we guys have to be ghulams to the residents and bear the brunt of the nurses' constant catcalls!

  26. Well, hello anonymous, everything you said is true :)

    It feels good to vent out our frustration, now that we have no other option left. I just re-read this post, and it made me feel better! I love the idea of hiring phlebotomists :D