Thoughts and memories about medical school clinical rotations, specialty choice, and applying to residency
This article is the fourth of a six-part series, written in the hope that it will be useful to those who are considering or preparing for a career in medicine, and at least entertaining and uplifting for the rest of you:
- First Decisions: Deciding to become a doctor
- Apply Yourself: Undergraduate studies
- The Academic Eating Contest: Medical school preclinical years
- Academic Vertigo and the Identity Crisis: Clinical rotations and specialty choice
- Keep Your Nose Above Water: Surviving residency
- Living the Dream: The transition from training to practice
I will post one section each week for six weeks. Sign up for email updates here or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get notified of new posts.
I was so excited to wear my first white coat!
My life changed abruptly and irreversibly in July of my third year, when I started my first clinical rotation in the hospital. This gave me my first opportunity to see how hospital teams function, and what role doctors play on that team. I remember the “A-Ha!” moment when I first comprehended the difference between what doctors do and what nurses do. (Recall my breathtaking ignorance described in Part I of this series.)
Every month or two for the next two years I rotated through a different type of practice. I started with internal medicine, then surgery, then family medicine, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, radiology, addiction medicine, emergency medicine, etc. Every month (and sometimes every day) I had a new team of doctors and residents to work with in an entirely different hospital or clinic setting. As soon as I got my bearings and felt like I knew what I was doing, it was time to move on to something else. In addition to these frequent changes of venue, I also found that I was no longer in charge of my own schedule like I had been for many years. Weekend and overnight work assignments were frequent. Even when things are going well this sort of instability is stressful. Continue reading