Career Advice

How to Become a Medical Intern: 10 Things to Know

One of the most common ways to obtain expertise in medicine, global health, pharmacology, and health care is through a medical internship. Medical internships offer the chance to put the knowledge and abilities you’ve learned into practice in real-world settings in addition to academic instruction. You can develop important career skills with the experience you gain from a medical internship.

Aspiring doctors must complete a one-year internship after finishing medical school before they can begin practicing medicine, but only while under the watchful supervision of a more seasoned physician. Most doctors have a residency after finishing an internship, which is a training phase that enables them to specialize and study more about a particular area of medicine. You can get a better idea of what these healthcare experts do by reading a standard medical intern position description.

In this post, we define a medical intern, list five things you should know about one, go through the skills a medical intern needs and offer advice on how to succeed in the area.

What exactly is a medical intern?

A graduate practicing medicine under the tight supervision of a qualified physician is known as a medical intern. Following graduation, medical students usually undergo a one-year internship in a hospital or clinic to earn their full license. During their internship, medical students learn the fundamentals of the medical profession, which helps them become more aware of what to anticipate in the workplace.

Basic medical terms for practitioners

Before enrolling in medical school, which is necessary to become a doctor, candidates for the profession must first receive a bachelor’s degree, during which time they may be designated as “pre-med.”

Prospective doctors complete one-year internships after finishing medical school to gain additional hands-on experience in the medical industry. Interns work under the supervision of doctors.

The American Association of Medical Colleges says that after completing an internship, doctors have the option to become general practitioners and start their independent medical practices, but most opt to join a residency program to become specialists. Specialists in fields like pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, endocrinology, allergology, and dermatology can become doctors through residencies. In certain circumstances, interns start as first-year residents and operate in their respective fields of expertise.

Doctors are considered specialists once they have finished their residency, which could take two to seven years based on the specialty.

How to Get a Medical Internship

How much schooling you need to pursue a career in medicine should be one of your first considerations. 39.1% of medical interns, according to our analysis, hold a bachelor’s degree. We discovered that 6.1% of medical interns hold master’s degrees, which is higher education. Although a college degree is typically required for medical internships, you can still become one with just a high school diploma or GED.

Things to know before becoming a medical intern

Medical interns get knowledge of the day-to-day activities of healthcare professionals in clinics and hospitals. You can anticipate the following when doing a medical internship because, in general, their tasks are comparable to those of doctors:

1. Accept your new position

You always will remember the first day you stepped foot in a hospital as an intern. Today is the day that you put on a long white coat and visit your patients as a doctor, not as a student.

Internships involve a period of change throughout the first few days and even weeks. You may feel unsure of yourself right now. But don’t worry. You will acquire the knowledge required to become a top doctor if you carry out your duties as an intern. Therefore, embrace your new position as an intern, even in the early going.

You will have a solid base of knowledge when you begin as an intern because you recently finished med school and your USMLE Step tests. That stated the med school does not instruct students on how to practice medicine. You learn how to become a physician during residency.

2. Taking on more responsibility

Typically, medical interns can anticipate having a variety of duties. When dealing with patients and skilled doctors directly, many find their schedules become busier. A medical intern’s regular responsibilities include things like:

  • Maintaining patient care during emergency procedures while attending outpatient clinics
  • Helping to take vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate measurements
  • Taking blood samples and running laboratory testing
  • Keeping track of patients’ critical information in charts and electronic medical records (EMRs)
  • Observing the right moral standards to deliver high-quality services

3. Supporting ongoing education

Medical interns frequently need to feel at ease daily studying new topics. The fundamental goal of an internship is to help students apply the concepts they have learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Medical interns might show that they are teachable by accepting criticism from more seasoned medical professionals. It takes time to develop confidence in one’s ability to practice medicine, but interns who are always learning may have a higher chance of becoming medical professionals in the future.

4. Spending extra time with patients

Medical interns may spend additional time with patients to better understand how to do their duties. When dealing with patients, being more detailed can improve communication and give interns access to more useful information that will help them offer patients with better treatment. For instance, a medical student might take the time to go over the potential adverse effects of a new medication a patient is taking to give them a better idea of what to anticipate.

5. Participating in conferences

The typical expectation for medical interns throughout their internship program is to attend weekly and daily sessions. Conferences provide interns with a fantastic chance to gain knowledge about their responsibilities and roles within medical teams. To get more out of these conferences, interns should make a list of any pertinent concerns or questions before the sessions even begin and distribute them to the speakers, moderators, and other attendees.

6. Adjusting to shifting work

Medical interns frequently work 49 or more hours a week, therefore they may have to mentally get ready for the many shift changes in the workplace. If they get enough rest on their days off, they might be more productive throughout the day and night shifts. This can assist them in maintaining high levels of functionality while carrying out crucial responsibilities, like monitoring patients in the wards.

7. Give yourself the time you require to complete your assignment.

You’ll probably need far more time upfront than you will months down the road to complete your assignment. You’re probably getting used to a new hospital and computer system. You are going to have a significant amount of work on your schedule as an intern even if you do your internship at the same institution where you completed your third- and fourth-year externships as a medical student.

Get there early to allow yourself enough time to gather vital signs, evaluate your patients, and study their lab results, diagnoses, and treatment plans. When you begin your internship year, especially in the morning, giving yourself more time will also help you write orders more accurately.

8. Knowing your patients

Nothing is more crucial than having the best possible understanding of your patients. The amount of time you had with your patients as a third-year medical student may be similar to what your third-year medical student has with one or two of your patients, but it is highly unlikely that it will be as long. You must therefore get to know them as thoroughly as you can.

Why is it important to be familiar with your patients? for a variety of reasons. The attending and junior/senior residents will first expect you to provide them with the most recent information regarding your patients. Second, you will act as the patient’s responsive clinician. This implies that the nursing and consulting teams for the patient will depend on you for the most recent information regarding the treatment strategy.

You will serve as the code team’s point person if your patient decompensates in a code event, providing them with the information they need to successfully try to revive your patient. The same criterion applies to surgical interns: before entering the operating room (OR) for a case, you must be familiar with your patient, the planned treatment, and its intended outcome.

9. Always keep in mind that patients come first.

Always remember that the needs of the patients come first during your internship and residency. As a medical intern in your residence, you’ll probably attend meetings every day and every week. You should take advantage of these excellent learning opportunities to the fullest extent possible. A lunchtime seminar is common in many programs, and food is served!

The priority should always be on your patients. You should skip lunch and grab up the telephone to call them back if your patient’s nurse pages you at one of these meetings and your patient becomes ill.

10. Learn on the Go

You acquired the skills necessary to be an effective student and test-taker in medical school. You may be concerned about how you’re going to ever understand everything you need to know to take proper care of your patients as you transition into an internship because there won’t be much time for focused learning.

Reading a random chapter or two after a hard day will not help you retain the information as well as reading it when you are admitting a patient. Avoid attempting to read a large number of books or papers right before you begin. You have all you require to succeed in your position as an incoming PGY-1 after finishing medical school. As an intern, you will acquire the knowledge you need on the move and retain it.

Duties of a medical intern

Interns in medicine are commonly referred to as Post Graduate Year 1, or PGY-1, students. Taking patient histories, assessing patients, visiting with relatives, and doing medical treatments including intubations, catheterizations, and biopsies are just a few of the tasks that interns carry out daily. Since interns lack a medical license, they must execute the majority of their work under the supervision of a licensed physician or another certified medical supervisor.

According to the UC Davis Medical Center, supervising clinicians may invite interns to speak with and evaluate patients and prescribe treatments to assess their expertise. They transition from PGY-1 to PGY-2 and so on as they enter their residencies.

Career Paths for medical internships

As your job progresses, you might find that you’re assuming greater responsibility or a leadership position. A medical intern can choose their career objectives by using our career map and following the professional path. For instance, they might begin with a position like medical assistant, advance to become a registered nurse, and then finally earn the title of nurse manager.

Skills for Medical intern

To carry out their daily tasks and improve the marketability of their resumes to potential employers, medical interns need to possess a set of specialized skills. Some talents that most medical interns have are:


Many companies, particularly those in the health industry, place a high value on efficient communication. Effective communication abilities are essential for patient care effectiveness since medical interns collaborate with their coworkers and communicate with patients and their loved ones. Medical interns can be more effective and provide patients with more detailed explanations of their clinical guidelines if they have good oral and written communication skills.

Medical expertise

Academic proficiency, which includes a thorough understanding of medical science, is another crucial competency for a medical intern. Many medical students devote a significant portion of their time to studying to be more productive during an internship. To give patients the best treatment possible, medical interns must develop a solid knowledge basis.


Successful consultations require empathetic abilities. Empathy can help medical interns connect to patients more effectively and provide high-quality care. The ability to comprehend events from the viewpoint or reference point of the patient may improve their treatment.

Management and leadership

Medical interns might pick up certain managerial skills throughout their internship, even if they are not in charge of running the company. Doctors with extensive experience lead the team that includes medical interns, so they can pick up superior leadership skills from these accomplished professionals. These abilities could result in a well-functioning team by promoting efficient job division and delegation.


To ensure a patient’s well-being, medical interns must be dependable team members. A medical team that works well together could provide patients with better results. Additionally, teamwork can improve a medical intern’s other abilities, like integrity, effective listening, and communication.

Computer expertise

Computer proficiency is advantageous in many professions. A medical intern with tech skills might be a useful complement to a medical team because the healthcare industry depends heavily on technology for archiving and retrieving patient information. Generally speaking, computer abilities include using both hardware and software.

How Do Rotations Work?

Rotations are the many stages of training that interns experience. For instance, all interns at the JPS Health Network’s John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas, rotate through rotations in family practice, pediatrics, emergency departments, general surgery, and internal medicine. Additionally, interns have the option of finishing their internships in a particular specialty field.

Rotations in ambulatory medicine, general internal medicine, emergency medicine, and cardiology are all required at the nonprofit healthcare organization OhioHealth.

Success strategies for medical interns

To assist incoming medical interns as they enter the field, consider the following success tips:

Take your time and finish tasks.

It’s possible that as a medical intern, you’ll originally take longer to finish duties than the lead doctor or other team veterans. This is because several interns are still becoming familiar with the hospital’s computer system and operating procedures. To ensure that you have enough time to gather vital signs, see and assess patients, and check laboratories, you should think about coming early to the facility.

Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The medical field is typically rigorous, and medical interns frequently have full schedules. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, medical interns must step away from their duties at the end of each shift. During your spare time, you might do your favorite things like cook a homemade dinner, watch TV, spend time with friends and family, go shopping, or exercise rather than worrying about work. This can aid in keeping you healthy both before and after the internship.

Request assistance when necessary

The medical sector needs ongoing education to stay current on new treatments, medications, and laws. Medical interns are permitted to ask for assistance if they feel certain activities are difficult, but they should try their best to fix a problem before consulting peers or supervisors. By seeking help from others, medical interns can pick up knowledge from more experienced experts and get more out of their internship experience.

Medical Internship Benefits

One of the most significant changes for a premed student to gain healthcare experience is a medical internship. Medical students who complete an internship improve their cognitive, practical, and behavioral abilities, which are essential for handling patients with competence and knowledge. The internships foster medical interns’ growth and communication abilities, which are crucial for moving up in the medical field. Continue reading to find out what a medical internship may offer a student.

Here are just a handful of the numerous advantages of a medical internship.

  • Networking Techniques
  • Therapeutic Intervention that Works
  • Possibilities for Publishing and Research
  • Quantitative and analytical abilities
  • Skills in Problem-Solving
  • Teamwork abilities

1. Acquiring networking abilities

By doing an internship in the medical sector, you can widen your network within your ideal industry. Throughout your internship, you will be given the chance to work with a variety of knowledgeable healthcare professionals. These medical professionals frequently have a wealth of information and experience. Some may even be regarded as leaders in their particular areas of study or research, which aids interns in getting the necessary exposure to the medical industry.

2. Successful Therapeutic Action

As an intern, your main objective is to conduct a complete and accurate diagnostic and to be able to use evidence-based medicine to reach a decision. To make informed selections when a circumstance calls for greater experience, seek professional help and speak with other medical professionals. Your choices will have an immediate influence on the health of your patients.

3. Acquire Research Possibilities and Publishing Chances

One of the most cutthroat and in-demand areas of the healthcare industry worldwide is research. Medical research is funded annually by the healthcare sector, giving students on internships like you the chance to develop their research skills. A medical student internship can provide you with a range of opportunities, such as writing blog posts, updating sites, and joining creative research teams.

4. Develop your analytical abilities

The ability to analyze data and think quantitatively is a prerequisite for everyone employed in the medical field. Excellent analytical and quantitative brains can produce ideas, conquer challenges, solve significant puzzles, and gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand by using numbers and statistics.

Data is essential for helping organizations expand and figure out how to respond to difficulties in the most effective way possible. Working with data will be a part of almost every chance you will get as an intern in a medical internship. The greatest way to learn and develop these numerical and analytical skills is through regular practice.

5. Improve your ability to solve problems

As a prospective employee in the healthcare sector, you have probably faced a range of problems and struggled to find answers. All types of problems could arise in the lab, the class, with your work-life balance, and every day during your career. How well you handle pressure and provide original ideas are crucial components to focus on when it pertains to problem-solving and developing your skills in this area.

All professionals must possess strong problem-solving skills to be successful, and this is especially true in the medical industry. You will observe a normal day in the life of a physician during a medical internship and get an understanding of the difficulties that they and their employees face. As an intern, all of these could be part of your everyday learning opportunities and help you develop original solutions to diverse business problems.

6. Improve your abilities for cooperation and teamwork.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals never work alone. A person who decides to pursue a profession in medicine joins a group of valuable medical professionals who assign some of the most important duties in medicine. Your medical career will benefit from this worthwhile experience, which is valuable.

Understanding where you fit into your team or department is a very important life skill that is crucial to the success of your team as well as your personal and organizational growth. Learning the benefits of taking constructive feedback and realizing the areas where you and the team can succeed together is sometimes necessary.

Getting input on your research, communication, writing, problem-solving, and time management talents before you apply to or begin medical school may help you enhance your abilities.

Pay for Medical Interns

There is no national wage scale, therefore medical intern salaries range greatly. The kind of facility you work at, where you live, or if you begin to specialize all affect how much money you make after completing your first year of medical school.

For medical students, a medical internship is a one-year course of study. You must at the very least be a college student registered with a professional medical degree to apply. Additionally, you might need to pass an evaluation test. The ability to think critically, pay attention to detail, and interact with others are requirements. Some programs demand proof that you have taken the Hippocratic Oath. Accepted candidates make roughly $56,071 per year or $26.96 per hour. Between $51,000 and $60,000 is the wage range.

By using search terms and looking at salary aggregator websites like and, you can obtain a better understanding of pay rates by specialization or location. For instance, reports that the national average pay for medical interns in the U.S. was $56,832 as of April 2021. Additionally, you can look up certain clinics or hospitals on a site like to see whether staff members have disclosed salary scales.

You will be considered an employee and as such, be eligible for all benefits, including health insurance, paid time off, and retirement account contributions.


Selected candidates are exposed to a variety of disciplines during medical internships, including gynecology, pathology, surgery, and emergency medicine. Interns assist with operations and take part in patient evaluations and emergency patient management. Additionally, they assist medical practitioners in conducting crucial tests and documenting physical examinations. The clinical skills and knowledge of interns are expanded through their medical internships. Additionally, it strengthens their network, confidence, and resourcefulness. Interns in medicine gain skills in interdisciplinary engagement and communication. They can take care of common surgical and medical issues using this.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I anticipate from my first internship?

Anticipate gerbil labor.

During the internship, you may be in a lesser role and given tasks like data entry, photocopying, etc., but everything is necessary for the process to go smoothly. To earn your boss’s trust and be given critical tasks, projects, and presentations, you must give him or her time.

  • What occurs when you complete an internship?

Update your résumé as soon as possible, preferably while your memories are still fresh. Look over your position description and mark the tasks you liked doing. Then consider the assignments you completed. Make a list of a few significant accomplishments that are pertinent to your future professional objectives and add them to your CV.

  • Do employers reject interns?

It’s almost certain that you won’t get the internship you want. Most individuals who put themselves out there will encounter it at least once. People simply don’t talk as often about rejections as they do about successes. Similar to dating, you win some and learn some from it.

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