If you follow the blog on Instagram (here’s your chance!), then you know that Yours Truly is on the second rung of the medical totem pole. I am an intern physician, journeying through my first year of official medical practice in Mexico, where I studied medicine. Before I got here, however, like all medical students around the world, I had to go through clinical rotations.
My university requires med students to rotate through 9 different specialties throughout our 3rd to 5th years of study:
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Family Medicine
- Internal Medicine
- Emergency Medicine
What is a Medical School Rotation?
Unless you have a great long-term memory, you’ve forgotten a lot of things that you crammed over the first 2-3 years of med school. The clinical years have to do with putting everything you’ve learned (and forgotten!) into practice in the hospital during the last 2 years or so of medical school.
If you’re nervous about clinical year and need some tips, click here.
What are the 5 Rotations I Enjoyed the most?
Each rotation was unique, and I learned a lot as I moved through each one, but I did have favorites, not only based on how much I learned but also based on how I enjoyed the experience at each of my postings.
I enjoyed this month-long rotation the most of all my rotations, and not because I learned the most clinical knowledge. The attending that I interacted with the most was so patient, and willing to teach us everything- well, almost everything he knew. We even got the chance to assist in surgery holding the digital laparoscope and closing up after surgery! It was really interesting seeing the patients from the first consult to the operating table- and even after, while they recovered and came back for post-surgery consult. In addition, my interns were so nice and willing to help, it was easy to get into the groove of things pretty quickly.
2. Emergency Medicine
Funny story. This experience isn’t about my official EM rotation, which I did at a small private hospital where almost nothing exciting happened. Instead, what makes EM number 2 on my list was my second turn in Emergency medicine. I showed up at one of the local IMSS hospitals (all my Mexican readers will relate) for my Otorhinology rotation. Long story short, the ENT attending never showed up. To prevent me from wasting my time sitting doing nothing, the Chief of Hospital Education took me to the E. D. to shadow the Emergency attending, a funny but very experienced doctor that I’ll call Dr. M.
I HAD A BLAST. Previously, I thought that Emergency was not for me, because I hate being put on the spot and I like being able to think things through, but the rotation changed my mind a little. With Dr. M, I was able to do outpatient consults alone, do wound cleanings, bandaging, catheter insertions, and see quite a few pleural aspirations and ascites drainages. I left my second round of EM feeling much more comfortable about my clinical skills, and Dr. M was a hoot!
This rotation made me consider doing psychiatry as my specialty post-medical school because I enjoyed it so much. To be fair, I liked psychiatry when I did the class a year before I did the rotation, but it was interesting to see patients at the clinical site with the same disorders I had studied a few semesters before, and become involved in their treatment journey. The main psychiatrist certainly put us through the wringer as well, asking loads of rapid-fire questions about functions of the different parts of the brain, types of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs, and general psychiatry knowledge.
This rotation was only 2 weeks long, but I loved it just the same. Near the end of the first semester of my last year of medical school, I began thinking of specialties that would suit the lifestyle I have in mind for myself- having a career with a perfect work-life balance. Opthalmology, outside of having super busy days has little to no night duties and residents are reported to have the 2nd highest rates of happiness at work. In addition, regardless of where in the world you live, ophthalmologists tend to make a very healthy salary in their 8-5 jobs- ’nuff said. What’s not to like? Outside of the potential for my future, I liked learning how to use the equipment and refreshing the things that I learned during Opthalmology class. It was a good time, overall.
5. Family Medicine
There is no deep reason why I liked this rotation. It wasn’t the most exciting of rotations, and I didn’t get to do a lot of things, but my Resident made the rotation fun! She was great at getting us as students to open up and ask questions, being confident in our deductions, and didn’t mind us interrupting her consults to ask the patients questions or make comments. She allowed us to do all the physical exploration we wanted to do, and if she felt we may have missed something, she did her exploration. This was my last rotation before Intern year officially started as well, so it was a great place to refresh my mind on drug doses and medication instructions before I began my first year of “Doctoring”. Lol. Interestingly, my first service as an Intern doc is in Family Medicine, so this last rotation did me well.
Just a Disclaimer!
My rankings are super subjective and based on my own experiences- that doesn’t mean that the rotations I didn’t mention weren’t great, they just weren’t my favourites. As you enter your clinical rotations, make your own memories, learn as much as you can, and network as much as you can! This clinical site may later become your place of work, so do your best, but don’t stress. You aren’t expected to know everything. Just enjoy it!
Have you already started your clinical years? Tell us which rotation is your favourite so far! Remember to follow us on Instagram at @medcuteonline!