Life as an intern (Part 1): You need to feel the love!

Dr Laura is currently completing a surgical internship at ARH Brisbane, working closely with our three surgeons Lance, Maurine and Jarrod. She studied veterinary science and has been qualified for two years. Laura recently made the switch from general practice (GP) to specialist hospital, and has impressed us with her knowledge, confidence and can do approach to her work.

Why did you become a vet?

I grew up in a family of doctors and loved the science of medicine and all the gory bits that went with it. I was also an animal lover and wanted a hands on challenging career. My alternative career option was a marine biologist, however, my careers counsellor in high school advised me that marine biology did not (much to my disappointment) involve swimming with dolphins and talking to whales every day. Researching algae in a lab was not on my bucket list, so veterinary science it was.

Female vet with dark hair cuddling greyhound puppyWhy did you decide to do an internship?

I want a hands-on challenging career and it doesn’t get much more hands on and challenging than surgery! I loved my GP surgery shifts and I was always disappointed when I didn’t have the opportunity to follow up particularly challenging or unusual cases which were referred to a specialist. I decided that I want to be the specialist.

What are the great things about being an intern?

The interesting cases. I learn something new every day without fail, it is never ever boring and the team is pretty wonderful, easy going, fun and supportive. I certainly don’t miss treating ear infections, skin allergies or anal gland impactions.

And we´d better ask, what are the not so great things about being an intern?

The hours are often very long and I sometimes feel myself wearing thin and needing some R ´n R. I am very grateful that we rarely have to work on the weekend, because by Friday afternoon I am ready to spend an entire day outside – I miss the sunshine!

Financially I would be earning more as a GP and having to make sacrifices is the reality of being an intern. I also struggle not having full responsibility for my own patients – while it may seem easier, I spend much of my day searching the hospital for the specialists to ask questions, get approval for medications, to complete a consult or check some radiographs. Sometimes I think there is a secret cupboard somewhere in the hospital that they hide in to escape the pesky interns.

Female vet wearing scrubs and face maskSo, is it all you hoped it would be?

It is fairly demanding but very rewarding. For me, the internship is the first and probably the easiest step on the pathway of becoming a specialist, so it is part of a career goal that I am working hard to achieve.

I believe it is common knowledge that internships are hard work, but I would recommend my internship in a heartbeat. I really enjoy my job and I have no regrets despite the challenges that come with it. The reward of seeing very sick or broken patients walk out the door on the other side of a long hospital stay and challenging surgery is worth every minute.

What do you want people to know about an internship?

You don´t need to be considering specialising for an internship to be worthwhile. I have learned so much that I could apply to general practice. It is also very valuable having experience in a specialist hospital and an understanding of the type of environment general practice patients are being referred to.

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