Learning while in third year is much different from the first two years of med school. The first, and probably most readily apparent, difference is the style. We spent our first two years memorizing random lists of things, sitting in lectures, and going to labs. On a rotation, everything is real and in the moment. The random facts we memorized in the first 2 years finally become useful and are placed in a clinical context.
Aside from that, third year has several other differences in comparison the first half of med school. The learning is almost 100% self-directed; and I’ve found this to be a double edged sword. It is good because it forces me start taking on more responsibility and become more invested in patient care. However, when learning is self-directed it is often very easy to miss things. There are so many concepts and topics that I just didn’t know were important ad thus never studied or focused on.
The other unique part of third year education are noon conferences and morning reports. There seems to be a huge emphasis placed on learning from each other. Morning reports are very case based and interactive, while noon conferences tend to be lecture based and involve updates on the new developments in a certain field. I have found these to be very interesting and helpful; especially because much of the continuing education after we’ve become doctors is done similarly by learning from peers.