Are you feeling unsure about applying for a hospital internship? It can be complicated as each hospital (or hospital network) is different.
Here are some things to consider, so you make the right choice:
What do you want to specialise in?
It’s good to keep an open mind. You may be practising your specialty for decades to come, so get to know the specialty.
If you’re not sure, or unsuccessful in your first choice, remember that doing a variety of terms will expand your knowledge and your networks. It’s also not uncommon for doctors to find they enjoy lots of terms and choose general practice for the diversity. If you’re sure about your future specialty, and it’s hospital based, ensure that a hospital has a ward and term in that specialty.
If you’re interested in general practice already, consider how you will meet the mandatory terms required (such as paediatrics) and what other terms the hospital offers that will help develop your experience prior to entering a community GP setting. Due to the breadth of GP, any term will be useful, especially terms like ENT, dermatology, O&G, emergency, cardiology, gastroenterology, palliative care, oncology, endocrinology…the list goes on!
Where do you want to work?
Each hospital will be different, likewise there will be differences between large city hospitals and regional hospitals. Large city hospitals may offer more specialties and more specialists, the down side is greater competition. In a rural hospital you’ll be part of a smaller team you’ll be more likely to know your consultant personally. You’re also more likely to get more hands-on experience. The medicine you see is likely to be just as interesting as in the city, if not more so.
What about orientation, mentoring programs, dedicated teaching time and overtime?
These are all important to your internship, find out the details so you can make an informed choice.
Are you interested in research?
Check out the research facilities, or research relationships with independent facilities, that hospitals have.
What about work-life balance?
Your choice doesn’t have to solely be based on where you see yourself working, there’s more to life than that. If you’re in a capital city think about the availability of public transport, the time getting to and from work, and the affordability of living there.
Some hospitals will even have facilities such as a gym or child care onsite.
What community does the hospital service?
Some hospitals have a history of providing care to a sector of the community e.g. veterans or culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
If I move out of the city how will I (my partner and family) meet people?
It’s likely that in a regional or rural location you’ll be welcomed and supported differently to larger city hospitals. They’re will be other interns, hospital staff and allied health professionals you’ll be able to network with socially and professionally. You may also need to think about job opportunities for your partner. In smaller areas there’s great opportunities to become part of a community, which leads us to the next point…
What are your outside interests?
If you’re passionate about sport, music, drama, volunteering or even pub trivia, in regional and rural areas your interests may be a great way to become a part of the community. Regional and rural centres have very active communities that means loads of amenities and activities.
What’s the word on the street?
There is nothing like word-of-mouth to get a better picture about being an intern in a specific hospital and specialty. Ask as many people as you can about their experience as an intern.
And remember…enjoy the change, it will be very different from medical school!