USMLE Course Consultant
After spending two years in the classroom, now it’s time to begin your third-year with clinical rotations. During clinical rotations, you get to immerse yourself in patient care, know more about the different specialties and put your bookish knowledge to good use.
Although clinical rotation is exciting, this transition can be a stressful time. It may fill you with tons of anxiety. Therefore, it is important that you enter into clinical rotations with a growth mindset. They may seem daunting, but you get only one shot at it. So, make it count.
With that said, here are 5 tips to succeed in clinical rotations.
1. Choose your rotations wisely
Clinical rotations help medical students in figuring out what medical residencies are best for them. During the rotations, the students shadow physicians in variety of medical disciplines. This helps them in making an educated decision about what specialty they want to join and later practice. To choose the right clinical rotations that is aligned with your future plans is not easy.
Some tips to choose the right clinical rotations:
- Explore as many rotations as you can to help you identify the specialty you are truly passionate about.
- Ask yourself these questions: What are your needs and special interests? In what areas would you like gain more experience? What kinds of experiences in clinical rotations would you like to go through before you choose a residency program? Are there any clinical rotation experiences that will help you shortlist your specialty choices or discover your passion?
- Spend time researching possible opportunities and options. Find information about opportunities in clinical electives of your interest from sources such as the clinical department, past medical students, and faculty members.
2. Practice the required skills
You get to learn a lot during clinical rotations. However, it is important that you practice the required skills before you start. Make a list of things you would like to learn, and practice what you have already learned, such as:
· Taking history
· Tying surgical knots
· Oral case presentations
· Writing notes
· Presenting patients
· Giving physical exams
You’ll feel confident when you have the opportunity to perform these tasks.
3. Hone your organizational skills
It is important that you stay organized during clinical rotations. Figure out a way to organize the patient information you will have at maintain and update while on rounds.
Use a notebook, or get a template printed to jot down important information, values and updates. Don’t use random scraps of paper and then shove them into your coat.
Listen carefully. It is one important clinical skill that will help you be a better doctor. Each patient encounter will give you an opportunity to learn something new, if you pay close attention to what your patients are saying.
5. Be friends with your fourth-year peers
A friend who is in the fourth year can be an excellent mentor to you. You’ll get invaluable advice from students who have been through what you are going through now. Talking with them will keep you informed and updated about the forthcoming challenge.
6. Ask questions
You have got into the third year without much hands-on experience of examining real patients and dealing in logistics of the hospital. Now you are in the real world, seeing real patients; you’ve got a lot to learn. The only way you can learn better is by asking questions. Let no doubts remain in your mind; ask questions, however silly they may seem.
While it may be perfectly alright to ask genuine questions, do not ask questions that could reflect poorly on you. Don’t ask questions that you can easily look up.
Eric Brown is a standardized patient (SP) who lives in New York and advises NYCSPREP with their Clinical Skills course. He has a BA from a liberal arts college in the Northeast, where he majored in the theatrical arts and business (he credits the first for his ability to simulate real patients). He’s amassed years of experience as an SP and keeps up to date with CS exam expectations, trends and developments. When the Phillies are in town, Eric considers it his duty to support his home team. He won’t be seen without his trusty catcher’s mitt on these occasions, and prides himself on having caught more than one foul ball with it. If you have any questions about standardized CS exams or courses at NYCSPREP, email Eric at email@example.com or visit http://www.nycsprep.com.
More advice from Eric Brown:
How International Medical School Graduates Can Obtain US Clinical Experience