Alison Brown, MD
The start of intern year is a very exciting time for medical school graduates. The new responsibility that comes with direct patient care can also be anxiety-provoking, but fortunately, throughout intern year at Duke, there is abundant support within each rotation as well as from the anesthesiology department itself.
As a Duke Anesthesiology intern, most of your time is spent on inpatient services. Each month of PGY-1 year is dedicated to a different rotation within the following departments: Internal Medicine (Cardiology Inpatient Service, Cardiology Consult Service, Pulmonology, and General Medicine), Pediatrics (PICU, General Pediatrics), Surgery (General and Bariatric Surgery), and Emergency Medicine. One of the best parts of intern year is the opportunity to meet residents across a variety of other training programs. There are also a few anesthesia-based rotations during PGY-1 year, including hyperbaric medicine, Acute Pain Service, and a new perioperative medicine rotation. These rotations are a great way to meet Duke Anesthesiology faculty members and upper level anesthesia residents early on. Most rotations are located at Duke University Hospital (DUH) and PGY-1 trainees also rotate at the Durham VAMC (in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit) located right across the street from DUH, as well as at Duke Regional Hospital (General Medicine and General Surgery) which is a short drive from Durham.
Though we spend most of intern year rotating outside of the anesthesiology department, there is a significant effort to keep interns actively involved with the department. Interns are invited to all social events which include happy hours at one of the many local bars and breweries in Durham, an annual meet-and-greet gathering, and an incredible holiday party each December. The anesthesiology department also organizes a monthly lecture series for interns; this is a great way to review carefully chosen, relevant topics, and equally important, this is a key time to catch up with your co-interns.
The day-to-day schedule varies quite a bit depending on the rotation. For inpatient ward rotations, most shifts start around 7a.am. Some rotations also include one or two weeks of night float. Typical intern responsibilities include pre-rounding/data collection, examining each patient, writing daily notes and entering orders for patients, and helping admit and discharge patients with the help of your senior resident. Several rotations include a resident morning report and/or a noon conference with lunch provided. Some rotations require working six days per week and others you have the weekends off. On average, I personally worked between 60 and 65 hours per week and I felt that adherence to ACGME duty hour requirements is taken very seriously.
Most days after work, I had time to cook dinner and/or watch a TV show to unwind. On my days off, I usually spent part of the day catching up on life (i.e. doing laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping), and afterwards, there is a lot to do in the Durham/Chapel Hill area: my favorite activities were exploring the ever-expanding list of tasty Durham restaurants, visiting the Farmer’s Market in downtown Durham on Saturday mornings, or just enjoying the North Carolina weather with a run out side or a hike at the Eno River State Park which is a short 15-minute drive away. On the rotations where we have weekends off, it is very doable to drive to the beach (the North Carolina coast is about an hour-and-a-half drive) or the mountains (Asheville is about a three-and-a-half hour drive) for a weekend escape.
Intern year, though challenging, was a very rewarding year. Rotating through various departments allowed me to meet residents from other departments who I not only continue to interact with regularly at work but have become some of my closest friends outside the hospital. Internship at Duke Anesthesiology provided me with an excellent clinical foundation that I am confident will benefit me throughout the rest of my training and career, and I feel extremely fortunate to be at Duke for anesthesia residency.