Surgery is a team sport. Yet as a new surgical intern, you may feel that you are not a crucial part of the team. Even if you are incredibly smart, you are unlikely to be making critical management decisions. So what does that leave? A lot, actually:
Keep a positive attitude. If you are enthusiastic and interested, your residents will enjoy having you around, and they will work to keep you involved and satisfied. Enthusiasm also covers a multitude of the inevitable sins. A dazzlingly intelligent but morose complainer is better suited for a residency in the morgue. Remember, your resident is likely following 15 sick patients, gets paid less than $5 an hour, and hasn’t slept more than 5 hours in the last 3 days. Simple things such as smiling and saying thank you (when someone teaches, helps, or notices you) go an incredibly long way and are rewarded.
Work hard. This internship is an apprenticeship. If you work hard, you will get a realistic idea of what it means to be a resident (and a practicing surgeon).
Embrace the scut. Medical school is over, welcome to being a doctor. While we would all like a secretary, one is not going to be provided during your internship. And your residents do a lot of their own scut work without you even knowing about it. So if you feel that scut work is beneath you, perhaps you should think about another profession.
Help out. If your residents look busy, they probably are. So, if you ask how you can help and they are too busy even to answer you, asking again probably won’t yield much. Always leap at the opportunity to grab admission/discharge forms, track down lab results, and retrieve bags of blood from the blood bank. The team will recognize your positive attitude and reward your contributions.