Support your local intern
For some reason, it just occurred to me that it's the first week of July. I want to give a big congratulations to all the medical residents out there who are through with another year, especially to those who are finishing up and moving on to the nonstop sex and drugs of life as an attending.
And to those starting their intern years...I don't know what to say to you other than good luck. I don't know what anyone could have said to me that would have helped.
If you know someone who is starting out as an intern, don't assume you're going to lose contact with them for the year; outside-the-hospital friends are crucial to getting through it. Yes, he'll be busy, but the hardest part about being an intern isn't the hours or the workload--it's the expectation. So many people expect so many things from you, from the simple and mundane to the seemingly miraculous, that when you get home you don't want anyone to expect anything from you.
The best thing to do is to try to put together spontaneous, low-pressure social outings, because if you plan it too far in advance it becomes another expectation. Don't be surprised if he isn't very talkative; he might just want to listen to people talking who are relatively healthy and happy and don't expect him to fix them. Don't forbid talk about the hospital, because he probably feels like it's all he knows right now.
Of course, you don't have to get him out just to show some support; an e-mail, card, or phone call may be just what he needs to bring him back to reality (because it really seems like you're living in another universe sometimes).
(Note that these things don't necessarily apply only to interns (aka first-year residents); the rest of residency can be just as tough if not tougher in a lot of ways. So keep it up.)