5 Things U.S. Students Should Do to Prepare for Medical School Rotation

After spending countless hours studying in the classroom, medical school rotation offers a welcome change in routine. While you are putting your hard-earned knowledge to use, you’ll also be facing a host of new challenges.

Here are five ways U.S. Medical students can prepare themselves for their clinical clerkships:

1. Treat It Like a Job

Although students face several different and brief rotations, it is important that each opportunity is treated with professionalism. Some settings may not spark much interest, but each will provide unique lessons. Rotations are as much about familiarizing medical students with the environment, routine, and people, as it is about acquiring good work habits. Before attending a medical school rotation, students should invest in purchasing professional attire, commit to maintaining punctuality, and arrive prepared to tackle any task.

These simple life skills will help the student in and outside of their clinical rotation.

2. Understand What is Expected of You

One of the trickiest parts about transitioning to a medical school rotation is leaving behind the clear objectives of the classroom. Attending college is all about clear inputs and outputs, and being in a controlled setting, so most students no what is expected of them inside the classroom. However, the working world is far more vague when it comes to expectations. A positive attitude, proactive nature, and willingness to learn are all great assets to cultivate before starting your first clinical rotation. Also, be prepared to ask questions of your advisors during your rotation.

Don’t be afraid to ask them what they expect from you, or for them to clarify duties assigned to you that you may not understand.

3. Get Directions

Before going on a job interview, it is important to review the driving directions, where to park, the suite number, etc. So why would starting rotations be any different? Prior to your first day, taking a quick tour of the grounds and facility can greatly reduce first day jitters. It also can improve confidence and reduce the likelihood of arriving late. Take a quick visit to the hospital or office where your rotation is taking place and get familiar with the layout. Check for bathrooms, parking, exits, and the cafeteria.

Touring the facility also provides medical students an opportunity to introduce themselves to front desk clerks, nurses, and other staff that they will see daily.

Although it may seem insignificant, this small time investment can pay off big.

4. Be Kind

Medical rotations are time consuming and stressful, but that is not a reason to forgo manners, niceties and bedside manner. Students will be working alongside staff, most of whom will be more experienced, regardless of position. Be kind to residents, nurses, janitors, and patients alike. Fostering friendly relations starting your first day, not only makes the experience more pleasant, but also will help you when it is time for your superiors to evaluate you.

5. Ditch Bad Cell Phone Habits

Medical students who find themselves addicted to checking their cell phones should take a step back prior to starting rotations. While staying connected to family and friends is difficult while working in such a highly demanding field, avoid the temptation to text during working hours. Weaning off of bad cell phone habits may involve discussions with loved ones about limiting non-emergency communication during certain hours of the day.

Replace the phone with something more productive, such as reviewing patient notes, studying for exams, or even just taking a moment to relax without intrusive electronics.

Also, don’t check your cell phone while meeting with a patient, or during a staff meeting (unless directed by your superior.) How would you feel if a doctor who was treating you in a hospital setting, decided to take a phone call from their significant other, while looking over your chart? Moreover, some rotations will provide you with a communication device specifically used for work related tasks.

Learning these simple tasks will help you in the clinical setting as well as help you in setting standards in your personal life.

If you need help with the application process for U.S. Clinical Clerkships fill out the form below to begin your new life adventure!

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