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January 23, 1981

Internship: Preparation or Hazing?

JAMA. 1981;245(4):377. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310290045025

For the past two years, I have been privileged to visit medical schools and hospitals in various parts of the country. I have been able to meet with medical students and physicians at various stages in their training and their careers. The weakest link in the entire chain of physician training, it seems to me, is the ordeal known as the internship. More specifically, I refer to the theory that it is necessary to put medical school graduates through a human meat grinder before they can qualify as fullfledged physicians. Putting it more delicately, the theory holds that anyone who wants to go into the medical profession must be given a rigorous and systematic exposure to the realities of the physician's life.

How does the internship prepare the physician for the "realities?" What if the "preparation" has the effect of dulling the sensitivities of the physician, or fostering feelings of