Disconnected internship programs leave new docs in dust

Recent medical school graduates are sometimes unequipped to deal with even the most routine and basic treatment duties, according to a Well blog post in the New York Times.

Author and surgeon Pauline Chen, M.D., writes that in the first few months of her internship, a fellow medical intern was unable to draw a patient's blood because he never learned how in med school, and another said she didn't know how to prep a patient for surgery.

Not only is there a "July effect," when new doctors step into their internships, affecting patient outcomes and leaving the young doctors vulnerable to burnout, other factors contribute to recent graduates' struggles within the hospital setting, according to Chen. "Instead of working as parts of a seamless and well-conceived whole, medical schools and residencies were operating independently of one another, teaching and emphasizing aspects of medicine that weren't always relevant to the next step of a young doctor's career," she wrote.

Chen uses the example of sub-internships, wherein senior medical students work as acting hospital interns for a month, to highlight the disconnect. These experiences vary widely, depending on the hospital's senior leadership and educational philosophy, with some students serving as full-on intern replacements and others as uninvolved observers.

That's why she's impressed with a new effort to improve the transition between medical school and residence training from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Next Accreditation System. A task force conducted a survey of more than 300 program directors and found that organization, time and management, as well as how to prioritize, were the most important skills new interns should master, along with effective communication skills, basic clinic skills and knowing when to ask for help.

Researchers hope to use the information to create updated curriculum for medical students to better prepare them for life after med school and improve patient care quality, Chen wrote. 

To learn more:
- here's the blog post
- read the survey abstract