doctors teaching

Tips for Interns: How to Respond to Your Attending’s Questions

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doctors teaching

Here are a few short cases to help out our new interns!


Your attending asks you during floor rounds:

“What can you tell me about __________?”

Your best response:

“I can tell you lots about __________…” and proceed to hit it out of the ballpark.  Be sure to work in some pathophysiology and quote at least nine scientific papers for good measure.  Twenty minutes later, end by saying: “But I could be wrong.”

Your next best response:

“I don’t know, but I’ll look it up and get back to you!”  Remain enthusiastic but apologize profusely for the next 24 hours.  Bring in copies of journal articles and, more importantly, brownies the next morning.  They will be worth brownie points (1 point per brownie).

Your worst response:

“Don’t know, don’t care, I’m hungry.”  You hammer the point home by walking away and focusing on what’s truly important in life: sandwiches.  Eat your sandwich, go home, and call it an early day.  You deserve it.  You always deserve it.


Your attending asks you at a patient’s bedside:

“Can you identify this murmur?”

Your best response:

“This most certainly is an Austin-Flint murmur…” and explain not only the properties of the murmur but give a detailed biography of Dr. Austin Flint himself.  Inform your attending you will name your first-born son Austin Flint.  Seamlessly transition into an overview of heart murmurs.  Request to be quizzed on 50 ECGs after bedside rounds.

Your next best response:

“You know, I’m not really sure.  Would you be able to teach me more about this murmur so that I might develop a better understanding?”  Listen to murmurs on patients, nurses, and janitors over the next 24 hours and bring in your attending’s preferred cup of coffee the next morning.  Your coffee milk art should resemble an ECG tracing (1 point for ST elevation, 2 points for hyperkalemia, and 3 points for torsades de pointes).

Your worst response:

“I hate stethoscopes,” you respond when your attending realizes you didn’t bring one.  “That’s why we have radiology.”  You continue watching NCIS on your iPad.  Never make any eye contact with your attending or any teammates; it’s a sign of weakness.


  • Simply know everything about everything in medicine ever and you’ll be golden
  • It’s okay to say, “I don’t know,” as long as wallow in your own under-achievements later
  • Earn your grade through an unwavering commitment to food and drink bribery
  • If you can’t take home any of these points, at least take home your favorite sandwich

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