Don’t overthink the urology sub-internship

As the fourth week in July comes to a close, most prospective urology residency applicants are looking ahead to their first away rotation: the visiting “sub-internship.”

This rotation is an opportunity for fourth-year medical students to visit another institution, usually for four weeks. Students assume the role of an intern. They work on the floor, usher patients to and from the operating room, and cover surgical cases. In essence, it’s a chance to shine. Students showcase their work ethic and knowledge of urology. In exchange, host institutions provide an educational experience and, potentially (and unofficially), an inside track in the application process for a urology residency.

That’s it. Nothing more, and usually nothing less.

Two years ago I was a sub-intern. Last year I was an intern watching (and evaluating) the sub-interns at my institution. My perspective is unique; I’m the host, but I still remember what it’s like to feel like a visitor. Let me offer this year’s visiting students one piece of advice: The key to a successful urology sub-internship is understanding the sheer simplicity of the circumstance.

Imagine yourself in a resident’s clogs. If you were a resident working in a stressful, life-consuming environment, what type of person would make a good colleague?

Humble. Hard-working. Intelligent. Funny. Or at least fun to be around.

That’s it.

You don’t need to know every answer in the operating room. You don’t need to know exactly when to take out the Foley catheter. You just have to swallow your pride, show initiative, and work hard. Above all else, you need to be someone with whom residents like to work. Most residents love what they do but hate their job. If you can make a resident’s job more bearable, you’ve won.

Be professional. Be yourself. Take care of patients.

Don’t overthink it.

Bayne pic Christopher Bayne is a urology resident at The George Washington University. He keeps a blog called Urinalysis and Tweets at @CBayneMD.