Career Guides

How to Prepare for Your First Medical Internship

An internship is the next step towards the actual practice of the medical profession after completing medical school. Medical students and Doctor of Medicine degree holders would already be free from academic obligations once they get diplomas, but the learning does not stop there.

In fact, it goes on in the form of a medical internship at your chosen health institution, such as a hospital or clinic. Medical internship is also called “residency”. It can vary between three and seven years depending on your chosen field of specialization.

The best thing about completing this rigorous, albeit enriching program, is that you get paid with just compensation while training and at the same time assuming the position as a resident doctor. The American Medical Association (AMA) conducted research revealing insight into a resident doctor’s stipend and benefits. The salaries of medical interns vary per year of their training. The 2014-2015 report reveals that medical doctor (MD) interns get paid more than $45,000 for their 1st year and as high as $70,000 in their 8th year of residency.

Applying for Medical Internship

Medical internship is considered to be a minimum requirement to be eligible and qualify for a general license in medicine. During a student’s last year in medical school, he or she is anticipated to process his application for postgraduate internship.

The most important aspect that needs to be factored in during this time is the field of specialization chosen by the hopeful medical intern. Bear in mind that applying for medical internships is competitive especially in high-paying medical fields like orthopedic surgery, invasive cardiology and gastroenterology, among others.

In the United States, medical internships are linked to residency programs where students will be working under the direct supervision of licensed and established medical practitioners. Medical internship is the ideal time for medical students to pursue a hands-on approach in learning and actually practice medicine to supplement the theoretical background provided by academic institutions. During their residency, medical interns will acquire the necessary experience and skills to specialize in their preferred medical field.

Requirements for Residency Application

Before you can apply for a medical internship, there are a list of requirements that need to be accomplished. It is important to remember that various medical institutions may have different requirements.

The American Medical Association (AMA) only recommends taking the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) or the United States Medical Licensing Examination to qualify for a General Medicine Residency Program. You should also be a candidate for graduation in order to be qualified for matching with over 9,000 ACGME-accredited Residency Programs around the United States.

If you are having trouble with choosing the best clinical setting for your area of medical specialization, you can refer to the Graduate Medical Education Directory. Also known as the “Green Book”, this published resource material features extensive information on U.S. programs that are ACGME-accredited. The online database, FREIDA (AMA Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access) System Online, is also helpful for medical graduates in choosing their residency programs.

Resident Matching

Medical residency hopefuls are also encouraged to participate in matching programs. Medical residency matching starts with the Electronic Residency Application System, or ERAS. Students need to fill out the application form, which includes their personal details and even a list of their preferred residency programs in line with their chosen specialization.

The ERAS applications will be compiled by the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) to match graduates and residency programs until all medical slots are filled. The AMA suggests that medical students apply to a minimum of 25 residency programs to increase their chances of qualifying for a specific medical specialization.

If they fail to get a slot in one hospital or clinic, they are immediately referred to the remaining programs in their list of preferences. There is also a process called, the Scramble, in which everyone’s chances of getting into their dream residency programs is remarkably improved in the event that slots are unfilled after the Match.

The Application Package

Your quest for acceptance in a Medical Residency Program does not end with Matching. Present yourself on your application in the best way possible, and include well thought out and carefully constructed writing with little to no room for error.

Applications for residency programs and interviews should be neat, free of any spelling, grammatical and typographical errors, and submitted before or within the deadline. Make sure that information provided is accurate and streamlined in a way that engages the reviewer, and include your NRMP applicant number if you have participated in Residency Matching.

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) should also highlight your significant experiences or involvement in research and instruction, medical-related skills, trainings, certifications, relevant causes, organizations joined, and any other proficiency or distinguishing information that will make you stand out and appear to be a great match for the chosen program against thousands of other applicants vying for acceptance into the same residency programs every year.

Written by and last updated Nov 17, 2017

Last reviewed by on Sep 21, 2016