Tips for New Interns: How to Curl into the Fetal Position

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We can certainly feel for all those interns starting this month: their minds are spinning and their cardiac rhythms are just shy of V-tach.  We put together this guide to help walk them through a process that they (nor we as medical students) learned in medical school: how to appropriate curl into the fetal position.  No amniotic fluid is required.

fetal position
“Don’t worry, guys, we’ll get you into the fetal position in no time!”

STEP 1: First, pick a location that is comfortable for you.  What’s great about the fetal position is that you can perform it anywhere: in the privacy of an elevator so that your sobs can echo off the metal and remind you of your sadness, or out in the middle of the nurses station for all to see.  Some like the corner of a call room, others like under a desk.  It’s your choice.  Make this the one decision you can confidently make.


STEP 2: It is absolutely a-okay to cry during this process.  Many interns ask if they should maintain a professional demeanor, instead of bawling while curling up into a ball of disappointment.  Of course not, that’s the point!  Go ahead, shed a tear and sob away, but just remember: you want to have good form.

STEP 3: Enter into a left or right lateral decubitus position.  Lie flat, and then turn onto one side, you don’t have to be too picky here.  You want to move on to the good stuff, coming up in Step 4.

STEP 4: Tuck your head and pull your bent knees towards your chest.  Now we’re talking!  Pretend like you’re about to receive a spinal tap.  Make your spine, which you don’t have, convex like the letter C.  Great job!  (In regards to the fetal positioning, that is, not your medical care.)

STEP 5: Incontinence.  Both bladder and bowel.  If nursing staff calls environmental services to clean up the remnants of human waste off the hospital floor while putting you in a cradle with a diaper, you’re fetal position is right on track.

STEP 6: Place thumb into mouth, suck profusely.  If performing this maneuver for the entire hospital floor, you should be garnering some attention by now.  In the event there is any question that you’re trying to regress into a happier state complete with umbilical cord, thumb-sucking should nip any doubt in the bud.  Suck until your thumb is as shriveled up as your confidence level.

STEP 7: Await warm milk from breast feeding.  Congratulations!  You’re now in the fetal position!  Doesn’t that feel good?  You must be wondering: How long do I maintain the fetal position?  Simple: until mother comes by with breast milk, nourishing you into the proud adult doctor we know you can be.

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