Life for the Next 2.5 Years

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A couple weeks ago we got the opportunity to do something pretty exciting... choose our 3rd and 4th year clinical rotation schedules!

It's really crazy to think there is a light at the end of this long,winding tunnel...and also kind of scary! In just a few short months (6 to be exact!) I will be responsible for real, live patients. They won't be actors presenting a clinical scenario. They won't be SIM patients that we can simply unplug or reset. These are people with REAL problems, real lives, and real...everything!

Side note: One of my fave apps is Resuscitation - practice being an EM doc!

This isn't my first rodeo in the patient care role. As many of you know, I worked as a nursing assistant (CNA/STNA) during my gap year but nothing too substantial. Even within that year though, I feel like I gained a fair amount of confidence in working with patients and families in especially vulnerable positions (bathing, feeding, assisting with wound care, etc). I guess what's so crazy to me is that my role will be a lot different than that of a nurse or tech. I hope I will still be able to create meaningful relationships with my patients and their families, even though I'm doing different things! Working as a CNA was one of the most intense situations I've ever been in. It is strenuous work but the patients really keep me excited and engaged. I know rotations are going to be difficult in other ways so I'll be depending on those moments to keep me going again!

So my schedule! Our school selects rotation schedules via a lottery system. We were all given a random number and then we all waited in our lecture hall for them to call our number (this was also random) - basically medical school BINGO. The clerkship coordinators released a list of 12 possible schedules and many of us prioritized the lists according to our interests.

There are a lot of strategies to creating your schedule:
  • Do things you enjoy first/middle/last
  • Do things you don't enjoy first/middle/last
  • Start with Family Med or Internal Med
  • Don't do Surgery during the holidays
  • It doesn't matter at all, etc.
Basically depending on who you talk to, your schedule prioritization can be set up in a myriad of ways. The good and bad news is that it doesn't matter all that much in the end (again, just what I've heard).  My schedule strategy didn't end up working out (apparently everyone else wanted the same group as me) so when my number was *finally* called, I went with 4th choice. Whomp. Later on though, a friend and I realized we actually wanted to switch groups so I ended up with the schedule below! In the end, it doesn't really matter. I would've been fine with either in retrospect.

Study swag

For those who aren't familiar with how clerkship rotations work, 3rd and 4th year are the "clinical years" of my medical education. Each month I will rotate within a different specialty learning the ins and outs of patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. Likely I will stationed at a hospital or clinic and paired with an attending physician and will become part of the medical team. Lots of H&Ps and doing what people tell you to! These two years weigh heavily in the residency match process so it's important to do well!

Here is my 3rd year schedule:
  • July 2015 : Emergency Medicine 
  • August: Psych
  • September: Pediatrics
  • October: OB-Gyn
  • November: Internal Medicine 
  • December: Emergency Medicine 
    • BREAK
  • January 2016: Elective - TBD
  • February: Surgery
  • March: Radiology/ 2 weeks vacation
  • April: Ortho/Sports Med
  • May: Internal Medicine 
  • June: Family Medicine 
Whew! I'm kind of bummed that I have EM first thing. For one, I'm very interested in EM and I feel like I won't know anything about it yet! Two, EM is pretty intense & requires you to know about many different areas. I hope it will go ok!  The good news is that we get TWO EM rotations. 

I am happy to have Peds and OB-Gyn early on because I'm really trying to figure out where I want to focus my efforts for 4th year rotations. Right now my specialty interest lies within Peds and EM but OB sticks around in the back of my mind, too. 

As for the second half of the year, not as interesting for me but I'm so happy to have Family Med and Internal Med for my last two months - hopefully those will help me study for Step 2 boards!

Speaking of boards. I have decided to definitely take USMLE and COMLEX Step 1 this June. So far I have COMLEX scheduled for June 8th at 8 am. Now I'm just waiting to get approved to sign up for USMLE (hopefully the week after COMLEX) and then I'll be set.  I have been advised repeatedly to take USMLE (particularly by EM residents) so I'm just gonna do it. :I

As promised, I will detail my boards prep plan in an upcoming post. My school is providing a board prep program that begins after Spring Break so for now I'm just using my question bank and trying to finish out my remaining courses strong.

I'm not going to share my 4th year schedule just yet because it is largely up in the air. We get a TON of electives which is great because 4th year is when you typically schedule "audition rotations" at places you may be interested in for residency.  For me, that means I'll be trying to set up a couple rotations in Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky.

That's all for now! 


  1. Exciting! I am a PA student and start my rotations in 10 weeks (!!!!!). I have internal medicine first which is a little daunting but I am kind of glad to have a "generalist" type rotation first. I LOVE the ER and can't wait for that rotation myself :)

  2. That's so exciting! Random question- would you suggest a premed to get a CNA to get exposure to a hospital setting? It's so hard to spend time in hospitals because shadowing is normally for a day. I've heard CNAs don't have the best perspective of a doctors work though, so I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say. :)

  3. So cool following your journey through med school!!

  4. How exciting! It's amazing to see how the journey actually is from a student instead of just reading about it

  5. CNAs definitely get more of the nursing side of things but I think it can be a very valuable experience for pre-meds just from a patient care standpoint. You get to see the day-to-day process of patient care which is something many docs don't see or appreciate. It opens your eyes to the challenge in patient care and makes you appreciate nurses/techs! You also get the opportunity to develop relationships with patients and grow comfortable working with people in very vulernable situations. You probably won't get much of the actual medicine/physician side of things but it's still a great idea!

  6. Awesome! I've heard IM is a hard but good rotation to begin with because you'll get exposed to so many things! Best of luck!

  7. I have been following you on instagram for a while but just now realized that you also have this lovely blog! Everyone who has told you 3rd year schedule doesn't matter is correct. There are arguments to be made for all sorts of arrangements, but in the end you'll be a doctor no matter what! :) I'm jealous you get two EM rotations - I'm sure that'll be a great way to get your feet wet at the beginning of the year!