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clinical rotations

6 Tips to help Medical Students Thrive During Clinical Rotations

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Without a doubt, clinical rotations can be the most challenging yet practical, hands-on stage of your medical education. They give you an opportunity to apply knowledge you have spent hours mastering to various patients in an actual healthcare setting, and actually make a difference in their lives. However, balancing the rigors of medical school with experiencing life as a physician firsthand can leave you physically and mentally overwhelmed. If you are starting your clinical rotations for Caribbean med school, here are some important tips from experienced practitioners that you should keep in mind to make the most of this important phase of your medical school journey, enhancing your success as a doctor.

Interact Cordially with the support staff

Patient healthcare isn’t just limited to doctors and physicians; nurses, patient care assistants and other support staff also fit into the equation. In fact, most support personnel have extensive experience working in a healthcare setting and may teach you a lot about dealing with patients. They will have your back and help you if they consider you a part of the team. It is therefore prudent to maintain a friendly relationship with the support staff you are working with and treat them as equally essential to the care of the patient and to your success, and who knows, they may put in a good word for you with the resident you are training under.

Foster Good Relations with your Fourth Year Seniors

One of the most important things you can do before beginning your third-year clinical rotations is to find someone who is a fourth year. These students have already gone through their core rotations and have been through exactly what you will experience down the road. They can provide invaluable insight about what is expected of you as well as the school or hospital environment you will be subjected to, the clinical skills you need to master, work hour requirements, as well as the procedures you may expect to perform. They can also give you advice on how to interact with residents, attending physicians, and other hospital staff. Especially if you are looking to pursue a specific specialty—like cardiology, nephrology or surgery—it is a great idea to discuss your career options with older students on those rotations.

Commit to Each Rotation

While you may already have made up your mind about which medical specialty you want to pursue, it is still not prudent to focus only on the clinical rotations that seem relevant to your chosen area of interest and just blow off the rest. It is common for students to want to just get through family practice rotation because they are convinced that they are going to be a cardiologist. The important thing is to remember that the real purpose of clinical rotations is to learn as much as you can. Treat each rotation as though you planned to specialize in it and try to learn everything you can during the rotation. Different experiences will expose you to other disciplines that excite you and you may discover that your true calling is different from you initially thought.

Work on Your Bedside Manners

During your clinical rotations, you will get a lot of one-on-one time with individual patients. This gives you a rare opportunity to get to know them, engage them in meaningful conversations and cultivate the skill of patient-centered listening. You can monitor their charts daily, follow up on labs and imaging, research and discuss their clinical problems, update families, etc. Multiple studies have shown that clinicians often interrupt patients before they could explain the reasons for their visit. This leads to patient dissatisfaction and results in poor patient-physician relation. As a student, you have more time to listen to patients and build healthy professional habits that will carry you far in your training, while simultaneously improving patient-centered care. Not to mentioning, fostering relationships with them can really boost your morale and show you why you wanted to be a doctor in the first place. A smile or a positive word from your patient on rounds can go a long way.

Make Time for Studying

Beginning clinical rotations will have you wearing many new hats on top of your responsibilities as a student. While you are trying to juggle the responsibilities of a professional, learn to balance time spent on clinical rotations, and studying in order to prepare for the exams that occur near the end of each clinical rotation. Use effective time management strategies to maximize your downtime at the hospital or clinic to study. Try to correlate patient cases with the topics you learned during didactic.

Take Care of your Wellbeing

Med school rotations are your window to interacting with real-life patients. While the prospect does seem enticing, but between balancing the demands of medical school and clinical duties, you can get overworked and stressed out all too soon. If you want to thrive during clinical rotations, you have to prioritize self-care above all else. No matter your hectic your days can be, find time to exercise, sleep when you can, and eat three meals a day. Practicing healthy habits in medical school will help you throughout her entire career. Like all professions, doctors need breaks too. Be sure to find time for activities and leisure that help you unwind and rejuvenate, then schedule them into your week alongside classes and studying.  If ever you feel burned out, taking time away from medicine to connect with nature, catch up on a movie, or visit family and friends can get you right back on track.

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