Friday, November 2, 2012

UMD Interns, We Get Around

It feels like only yesterday that all ten of us met at Harbor Hospital for our first day orientation. However, in reality, over 2 months have passed and I’m already amazed at the variety of experiences I’ve had during my internship.

Instead of being cooped up inside the same hospital for 11 months, this internship makes you get out there and explore.  Since this journey began, I’ve mastered the D.C. metro system, battled beltway traffic, and ventured to four different states (including D.C.). Now, it may seem like a lot of driving and sometimes that’s true. However, I’ve found that being an intern means embracing every opportunity and being willing to go that extra mile (sometimes literally).
To take the stress out of a long commute, I’ve compiled this list of recommendations:
1.       Negotiate your hours. If you’d rather come in an hour early to beat rush hour traffic, go for it! I’ve found that all my preceptors are very accommodating and you wouldn’t believe the difference in traffic an hour can make on your commute home.
2.       Don’t rely solely on your GPS. When arriving to a new rotation site, I always use my trusty GPS. However, when I know I’ll be interning there for longer than 2 weeks, I like to turn it off and try navigating by memory. I feel that I become more familiar with the area and road names without the assistance of my GPS. In addition, if you forget it at home, or encounter closed roads you will be less likely to get lost.  
3.       Get a SmartTrip card. If you dread the metro, get over it because you will be using it at some point. I used the metro for Food & Friends (Fort Totten metro stop) and IFIC (Farragut West metro stop). Also, be sure to put at least $30.00 on it at a time because lines for the machines can be long and you have to pay when you exit the parking lot.
4.       Explore public transportation options. A good friend of mine informed me of the Maryland Commuter Bus and afterwards my commute to IFIC was much easier and more affordable. Other interns have used the MARC train and found it helpful as well.   
5.       Keep snacks in your car. One of our first guest speakers mentioned this to us and I feel it’s great advice. I try to have a small bag of almonds or granola in my glove box, because that sudden hunger pain always sneaks up on me in traffic.
6.       Make a mixed tape or buy an audiobook. Make the drive more enjoyable with a mixed tape or buy an audiobook to take your mind off the long workday.
7.       Talk to the other interns. They will always be the best source for advice during the internship. If another intern lives close by, offer to car pool to class days or ask how they commuted to their rotations.
I hope these suggestions make your commute less stressful and more enjoyable. Feel free to comment and add your own suggestions! Happy driving!

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