As I approach the end of my third year of medical school, I am not oblivious to the fact that many of the people who read this blog are anxiously biting their nails as they transition from the pre-clinical years to the clinical years of medical education. I’m not an expert (CLEARLY) and I still have another year before I can call myself Dr. Marks but I wanted to share some of the gems that I learned on this leg of the journey in hopes of making your third year a little easier.
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I go to a school and got a rotation site that allowed me a lot of wiggle room when it came to choosing the order of my rotations. I wanted to get all of my core/required rotations out of the way FIRST before going into the electives and selectives.
Not everyone is going to be able to choose the order of rotations that she or he gets. And if that’s the case for you, then that’s the case for you. What you have to do from the moment your post-boards-vacation is up, is figure out what you’re schedule is going to look like. This means figuring out the order of your rotations (and preceptors), how long your rotations will be, and when you’ll be required to take your Shelfs/COMATs.
My very first rotation was surgery. Looking back, I don’t think I was ready for surgrey in August but I had to do it. If you CAN organize your rotations, I would suggest making your first rotation one that you DON’T have to take a Shelf exam for. Sometimes it’s hard to make the transition to working AND studying (as opposed to only studying and studying) and you might not score as well as you’d like on that first Shelf. But then again, you might be Superman or Wonder Woman…but I’m not and I’m only able to speak from my point of view and give advice to the people who might be a little bit like me.
One thing that I knew for sure was that I wanted to do Peds EARLY! I came into medical school knowing that I wanted to be a pediatrician and so I wanted to make sure that I got my general pediatrics rotation under my belt before January and before looking for audition rotations.
If there’s something that you know you want to do, try to get some exposure to it during the early months of your third year. On the other side of the coin, if you have NO idea of what you want to specialize in post-graduation, a little variety in those early months might help to direct your path.
Lastly, if you’re given the opportunity to choose from a list of selectives and electives, do so with purpose. ENT is my last rotation of third year and it is my surgery selective. Since I knew that I had to complete a second “surgery” rotation, I wanted to choose a specialty that would allow me to see a lot of pediatric patients and diseases. It’s not a pediatrics rotation and I expect to see a wide range of patients during my time in a couple of months but that was my thinking…and that has always been my thinking when choosing electives for third year.
If you are considering general medicine, you might want to look at GI or radiology for some of your electives. And if you are one of those people who are super zoned in on a super competitive and super specific profession, GO ALL IN and get as much exposure and research as possible.
I really hope this post was informative and slightly entertaining. Let me know if you’ll be starting your third year this “fall” and I’ll be sending all the good vibes your way! XX!