The basic medical education in Norway ends with one year as house physician or surgeon and six months as assistant to general practitioner. This internship is an important period in the course of education leading to a medical degree. According to a new national standard issued in 1989 all interns should have a personal supervisor and a formal curriculum covering this period. The present survey was carried out in order to evaluate the quality of learning during internship as experienced by the trainees. A questionnaire was sent to all 517 Norwegian interns as of December 1990. 93% replied. Ten of the interns were interviewed personally. 34% of the house officers had an appointed supervisor compared with 54% in primary care. Few of the interns had a formal curriculum. Many of them felt the need for constructive feedback on their professional performance, but few received it. They nevertheless claimed that it was easy both to raise questions and to obtain assistance in solving medical problems. One out of six interns had been severely depressed during the period of internship and related this to experiences at work. Women were generally more sensitive than men in this respect and were more critical of the interpersonal relationships experienced during this period. Despite the new standard, which sets realistic and necessary goals for this part of the medical education, learning during internship is still much a matter of chance. It is a major challenge to the medical profession to take the needs of young medical practitioners seriously.
Comment In: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1992 Sep 20;112(22):28861412335