I am a strong believer that every rotation can be a beneficial one depending on the subject, the hospital, the residents, and the attendings even if you have no interest in that specialty. There are some rotations that I believe have contributed immensely to my clinical knowledge during my third and fourth year. Read below for some of my favorite elective clinical rotations!
- Infectious Disease:
- Although internal medicine isn’t a specialty I see myself going into, I really enjoyed the internal medicine sub-specialty of infectious disease. I recently completed four weeks at a county hospital with a team that consisted of me, two residents, one infectious disease fellow, and an attending. It was one of the most informative and educational rotations because so many teams consult infectious disease!
- Why you should do this rotation: The majority of specialties will involve dealing with disease states that need to be treated with antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals. The best person to ask for help on this are the infectious disease docs and even if you don’t plan on going into infectious disease, there is a good chance you will be consulting them! And also, because antibiotics are hard. Definitely more to know than “naf for staph!”
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU):
- This was one of the hardest rotations I had during my third-year and rightly so. I feel like it would have been better as a fourth-year medical student because the ICU involves knowing so much about each of your patients that it can be overwhelming. From vent settings, pressors, to how to do a physical on an intubated patient, it was a whirlwind rotation.
- Why you should do this rotation: If you plan on doing an in-hospital specialty (i.e. internal medicine, surgery, etc.), you will likely have patients in the ICU at some point. We are taught early on how to do history and physicals on patients who can walk and talk but what do you do when you walk in the room and the patient is intubated, sedated, and hooked up to so many wires you lose count of them? I highly suggest doing two weeks of this before heading into intern year of residency just to familiarize yourself with these complicated patients. You may also get to do cool procedures like intubation, central lines, and arterial lines!
- I had just finished 2 weeks of surgical oncology before I hopped into hematology and oncology and it was such a great compliment.
- Why you should do this rotation: This rotation was a great refresher on many concepts I learned while studying for Level/Step 1. From blood disorders to chemotherapy agents, it was a realm of medicine that I didn’t get in any of my required rotations. I think the greatest part of this rotation for me was how kind and appreciative the patients were to my preceptor. This is one of those specialties that can really mean life or death for a patient and when you talk to patients who successfully were treated, it is really humbling!
As you go through third and fourth-year, it’s easy to want to do the “easiest” specialties during your elective time but with the cost of medical school, I think it is well worth your time to experience rotations that will make you a better doctor no matter what specialty you’re in. I hope these suggestions help some of you who are contemplating how to make best of your time!