any tips for doing well on rotations? I am currently a 2nd year med student.
Sure, in no particular order:
- If you’re going to be a slacker, slack smart.
- Don’t throw your fellow students under the bus. Take one for the team now and then, and they’ll be more likely do reciprocate.
- Find a stash of prescription pads and take one. Residents and attendings will constantly be looking for them and asking you if you have an Rx pad, so it’s really helpful if you’re prepared.
- Don’t be a brown noser. People know when you’re being a suck-up, and for the most part, they don’t appreciate it.
- Don’t just watch codes. Get in there. Give someone a break and pump a chest for a while.
- Always carry a book. There can be a lot of dead time on rotations, so always have something you can study with you. If you have an iPad or Kindle, download your review books on them so you can carry them around.
- Do lots of practice questions for Shelf tests. Lots and lots of them. And get USMLE World. And do more practice questions. Practice. Questions. You get it.
- Be nice to nurses. For the most part, they know more than you do at this point in your training. Ask the nurses how your patient did overnight. They have most of the information you need to know.
- Fight hard against the temptation to complain about everything (your hours, your lack of studying time, your non-compliant patients), because someone in the hospital always has it worse than you. It can turn you bitter really quick. I had to make a conscious effort not to voice a lot of my whines and complaints, and I think I came out better for it.
- Read about your patients’ conditions when you go home at night. The best way to make things stick is to be able to correlate book learnin’ with clinical situations. I had a hard time with this, but seriously, read something every night, even if it’s just one UtD article.
- Speaking of reading, UpToDate is your friend. It’s concise, relevant, and, well, up to date.
- For heaven’s sake, if you don’t know, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask even stupid questions. It shows you’re interested and you’re thinking.
- Always know your patients’ labs (and how they’ve changed from previous days) and med list. Keep a paper with this info on each patient, and just add to it daily. And don’t just know the labs. Know the significance of the results and why they were ordered. You WILL get pimped on this stuff.
- If your patient has had some sort of imaging done, don’t just read the radiology report. Look at the film. Read the report and then correlate it with what you’re looking at. It’s the best way to learn to read x-rays and CTs.
- Make copies of your patients’ abnormal EKGs and keep a file of them (cover up their identifiers). Write the interpretations on the backs so you have to think before looking at the answer. It’s a great way to start figuring out what those squiggles mean.
- Keep sutures in your pocket. Tie them to your coat button and practice tying surgical knots as you walk on rounds.
- Learn which takeout places deliver to the hospital. Good Thai food can brighten an otherwise horribly boring day of Internal Medicine call.
Well, I think that’s about all I’ve got for now. Great question!