Anna Afonso, M.D., MPH

I still remember my first month of intern year — waking up in the middle of the night to check patient charts, labs, vitals and online resources. The transition from medical student to doctor frightened me, and I spent many nights reading through charts moment by moment to reassure myself that my patients were all tucked away and doing well through the night.

When I look back on “intern me,” I wish I could tell myself to go to sleep, among many other things that would have made me a much happier and more effective resident. I have compiled a brief list of my personal Top 10 pieces of advice for the new intern, in my hopes that it may help others in their transition from medical student to doctor.

Alexa Namba, DO, MPH

I took one step backward, started to lose my balance, and knew it was all over. I fell to the ground as squeals of delight and laughter filled the air. My right foot just could not reach the red circle, and my chance for Twister victory had evaporated. It’s Sunday evening at the patient hostel in Mwanza, Tanzania — which means family dinner and game night.

For the past six weeks, I have had the privilege to rotate at the Bugando Medical Centre. Seated atop a hill, overlooking the city and Lake Victoria, this hospital is the largest referral specialty hospital in the Lake region of Tanzania, covering 13 million people. Therefore, when traditional medicine has been tried and local and regional hospitals have not been successful, patients come here for specialty care. While this sounds similar to Duke, it was very apparent, from my first day, that I was no longer in Durham, N.C.

Sarah Russell, PharmD

Managing Stress

As I look back on stressful times in my life, specifically in pharmacy school, I now think “that wasn’t so bad.” I think about how we can make situations we go through 1,000 times more stressful than what they really are and how it important it is to take care of ourselves during situations that are out of our control.

As health care professionals, we encounter challenging patient situations or general work situations daily that affect all aspects of our life, not just work. The majority of our time is spent with our colleagues and patients, so our work life highly affects our daily mood, outlook, and overall quality of life. So, let’s sit back and think, what do we do on a daily basis to help manage our stress? What do we do to keep a positive attitude? How can we effectively lift up our patients and manage their chronic disease states?

Alexa Mieses, M.D., MPH

While in the emergency department a man was brought in by ambulance for agitation. After introducing myself, he told me his story. He witnessed his brother be shot to death by police. He now felt targeted, which is what prompted his visit to the emergency department. He was worried he was being followed. Were these paranoid delusions? During a brief encounter in the emergency department, it is hard to know for certain. However, after taking a thorough history from him, one thing was clear: This man was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the violent death of his brother.

Clayton Cooper, M.D., MBA

The residency application and Match process is an exhausting but exciting time that occurs during the fourth year of medical school. It involves applying to programs in which a graduating medical student is interested, hoping they are granted an interview at those programs, and then ranking all these programs in order of preference in hopes that their top-ranked program also listed them at the top of their list. On Match Day, medical students across the country open an envelope at the same time to determine where they will pursue their residency training. I explained this process to my Grandpa no less than five times, and on Match Day he was still confused that my fate was determined by opening an envelope!   

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