How To Impress During Rotations: A Guide For Medical Students

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Most medical schools begin clinical rotations at the beginning of a student’s third academic year. During the first two years, students attend lectures, take exams and work on assignments in a similar fashion as students pursuing bachelor’s degrees, according to Gap Medics. However, when a student begins rotations on the first day of their third year, the classroom is no longer filled with other students, but rather patients, residents and clinicians.

While it may be nerve racking to participate in these real world situations, clinical rotations proffer students the opportunity to consistently work in challenging environments that ultimately prepare them for long and sustainable careers.

What To Expect

When rotations begin on the third year, students are dispersed into areas like family medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. On the fourth year, students work rounds in fields such as anesthesiology, radiology, neurology and emergency medicine rotation.

Classified as either core or elective, the specifications for rotations vary depending on the institution. Some universities require 12 week rotations, while others require only six. Most rotations are held at medical centers affiliated with the medical school.

Understanding how rotations work and why they are designed the way the are is the first key to standing out. Rotations are taken extremely seriously and most students treat them the way they would treat a job, excepting for the fact that there is no pay included.

Stand Out From Your Peers (In A Good Way)

In order to stand out students must develop strong communication skills and a professional bedside presence. Scoring a perfect grade on an exam is not as impressive as being attentive and responsible for patients.

Although there will be times when clinicians instruct students during rotations, residents are responsible for overseeing most of the students progress. Residents work long hours and deal with ample amounts of stress, so making their life easier by volunteering to help is a great way to not only stand out, but to also develop sustainable relationships.

While working in real world situations may seem compelling, the work load for most students may actually not be as groundbreaking as they might hope. Students who work rotations often have to do tasks they don’t want to do and feel like they are at the bottom of the working chain, which they are. However, having a good attitude despite the lousy work conditions shows character and good clinicians will recognize this.

Most medical students are well aware of how to stand out during rotations because they have been standing out in classrooms since they were in elementary school.

Be prepared, do your homework, and read ahead. Arrive early, stay late, be respectful and look professional.

These almost seem like boring platitudes by now, but they work. Cliches are cliches for a reason!

Show up ready to take initiative and don’t make your residents have to chase you to get something done. Think the way a clinician would and execute the way you would need to if somebody’s life was on the line.

Riley Schatzle
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