It was a time in the professional life of a young trainee doctor where s/he would be directly involved in the care of patients with a degree of autonomy in clinical decision making.

A prototypal internship programme saw an intern spending three months each in the core departments of medicine, surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology and in allied specialties such as paediatrics, ophthalmology and ear, nose and throat.

Another way was through word-of-mouth publicity about the hospitals.

A majority of these offers involved up to two to three days of work.

So what exactly is this practice and what are its ramifications?

Before I get into the details, it will be worth taking a look into the life of an intern in a medical college hospital.

There was also the belief that it would prepare interns well for when they went out to work in the private sector.

Interns saw this practice as some kind of programme for mental toughening which would keep them in good stead for the rough times ahead. During my days in Kerala, interns stayed in quarters centrally located in the hospital.Another important spell in the internship programme took these trainee doctors to a primary health centre for three months for a posting in “social and preventive medicine” or “SPM”.Young doctors considered the internship physically taxing but immensely satisfying.It is not difficult to understand why: Interns were half-baked physicians who could, potentially, jeopardise the health of patients if left to treat them without supervision. This form of clinical practice thrived for many reasons.Foremost among them was the monetary gain it offered.In the early 1990s I was working in a medical college hospital in Kerala as an intern or house surgeon.