Like students in any other field, medical students spend much of their education in classrooms and attending lectures. However, part of getting your medical degree will eventually involve clinical rotations at teaching hospitals starting your third year of school, when you’ll have the chance to apply what you’ve learned to real life. It’s an exciting time in a student’s life, where they start getting a real taste of what they’re working so hard to learn to do: help people feel better. What does medical school rotation look like, and what kind of experiences can you, the student, expect?
A Day in The Life of a Medical School Rotation
In some ways, rotations are no different than having a job. Every day, you’ll get up and go to “work.” You will have specific hours you will need to be in attendance, and you will answer to your superior, most likely a resident. (Attending physicians are the ones in charge overall.) However, as rotations are part of your education, you don’t receive paycheck for completing them. In fact, you pay to do them.
In-Patiet and Out-Patient Rotations
Rotations are widely considered to fall into two categories: in-patient and out-patient. In-patient rotations involve working with those who have been hospitalized, while out-patient means you work with people who have scheduled in-office visits. As such, in-patient rotation work can be less predictable and more time-consuming than out-patient rotations, with less of a structured schedule and longer days.
During your daily rotations, you’ll alternate between shadowing residents and physicians, managing patients, admitting new patients, and possibly still participating in formal training, like quick lectures or lessons. Administrative work is not uncommon, as well, like obtaining medical records and analyzing test results.
While you are given full shifts, the length of time you stay each day can change. Sometimes, your resident will dismiss you as soon as there is nothing left for you to contribute to. Other times, you’ll be required to stay until the next shift arrives, even if you don’t have any responsibilities left for the day. In this case, it’s common for students to make use of this time by studying.
Many of the details surrounding your daily schedule will vary depending on the school you’re attending and the rotations you’re completing. Rotations don’t all last for the same amount of time, and some can be more demanding on your schedule than others. Don’t forget you might also notice differences between your core rotations — the ones you’re required to complete – and your electives — the ones you choose to do.
Step In The Right Dircetion
Rotations are going to provide invaluable hands-on experience you haven’t yet had. Because you’ll be shadowing physicians in a variety of disciplines, your rotations also serve to expose you to different arenas and help you decide what specialty you would like to focus on as a doctor.
Your clinical rotations are going to be a crucial part of not only your education but your future as a physician. They’re one of many factors that will determine your next steps, such as your success as a resident. Preparation is key. Contact CHHA for help with the hands-on training you’ll need to build a competitive residency application.Back to All Articles