A day in the life of an intern

A typical intern’s day starts at or before 8AM with a check on in-patients, followed by journal clubs, textbook reading, or imaging case rounds, depending on their service rotation. Ward rounds start a short time later, when ongoing care of each patient is discussed and the services allocate their cases for the day. Consultations start from 9AM, with new cases typically seen in the morning and ongoing cases and revisits usually seen in the afternoon, although this varies by service. Emergencies may come in at any time, of course.

Depending on their ability and experience, interns may see appropriate cases under supervision. The intern may supervise a senior student taking a clinical history, after which the case is discussed with a more senior member of staff and a recommended diagnostic or treatment plan can then be discussed with the owner.  The intern then concludes the consultation with a discussion of next steps and costs, together with a summary of the prognosis and potential complications, as discussed with their supervisor. The case is then admitted for further investigation or treatment.

Following the patient’s admission, the intern assists with the diagnostic procedures and treatments, directing students as required. This might be, for example, taking blood samples, catheterising and setting up of intravenous fluids, or the sedation of patients for imaging procedures. Alongside the incoming patients, interns are expected to attend to their in-patients with whatever care or work-up they require. Administrative tasks also need to be done such as writing up discharge instructions, or discharge letters to referring vets. If they are on a surgical rotation, interns may also assist with soft tissue or orthopaedic procedures throughout the day.

The evening ward round is carried out at about 5PM. Those patients staying in the hospital overnight have their needs assessed and treatment plans are completed. Then it’s back to administration or gathering and reading background information to help with their cases.

The night shift

At night, there are two interns and one qualified nurse on night shift (one rotating intern, and one anaesthesia intern), with three other residents/interns on duty, and further backup from senior clinicians, imagers and anaesthetists.  Senior clinicians on call will help, give advice or come in to the hospital to assist if required.  During term time, students also assist with out of hours duties.   Patient checks take place throughout the night.

The night shift starts with a ward round, checking on all in-patients. When the initial round is completed, the intern, night nurse and the other overnight clinicians to discuss treatment plans and any concerns regarding individual patients. Following rounds, staff distribute through the hospital as needed, and the intern might spend their night in the Intensive Care Unit helping manage very sick patients, or assisting with emergency referral cases, or caring for patients in the ward area.  Sometimes they are called upon to talk to concerned clients about their pets.

Like the day shift, nights are often very varied. Patient care is handed over at 8AM the next morning to the day team with written updates provided to each service. The intern is then free to head off home for a well-deserved rest!