As I approach the end of my second year of medical school, I start to think more and more about the third year clinical clerkships or rotations. Third year is a HUGE part of medical school. You actually get to do what you came to medical school to do, help patients. It’s the closest thing to being a doctor any of us have experienced so far. Many medical students choose their future specialty based on the third year of medical school. Going to the hospital or practice everyday shows you sides of medicine never seen before. There will be excitement but also boredom, pressure, sadness, frustration and any other emotion you can think of.
When choosing my rotations, I need to keep many factors in mind. I need to remember what is important to me and to my future. I want a hospital that will give me a realistic view of each specialty. Some hospitals serve a wide variety of patients while others cater to those needing a specific type of care only provided at that one hospital. To be the best doctor I can be, I want a setting where I will learn a great deal. Any hospital in Los Angeles will show me things I have never seen before, but hospitals in a community setting will allow me to see more patients and common illnesses and give me more responsibilities. In essence, I will be thrown into the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim. Next, I would still like to stay in shape because I plan to run the Boston Marathon in 2016. Certain hospitals are within a 10 mile biking distance of my apartment, and those are the ones I would like to rank higher on my rotation list. Lastly is the illustrious letter of distinction. UCLA is one of a few medical schools that have a Pass/Fail grading system all 4 years of medical school. A way to exceed a Passing grade in the third year clinical clerkships is to obtain a Letter of Distinction (LOD). Though I am not completely familiar with how LODs are obtained, besides high shelf scores and subjective evaluations, I know they can be used to stand out in residency interviews. Some hospitals are more willing to give out this honor over others. I would like a hospital that recognizes hard work. I am not asking for a hand out; I will break my back for my patients next year, and I hope my efforts will not be in vain.
All in all, next year will essentially take over my life. And it is up to me to rank my rotation list in a way that makes that life livable.