If you are a medical student, starting clinical rotations is a pivotal time in your journey to becoming a doctor. With academic courses behind you, it’s time to put all your studying to work and apply that knowledge in a practical, hands-on learning environment with real-life patients. So, how do you prepare for this exciting yet challenging transition in your career?

Xavier University School of Medicine (XUSOM) breaks it all down in this blog with helpful tips to give you a competitive edge when preparing for your clinical rotations and working in the field.

Why clinical rotations are important

You already know you want to be a physician. Clinical rotations take you one step closer by helping you answer important questions, such as:

  • What field of study are you interested in practicing?
  • What can you expect when working in the “real world” of healthcare?
  • What type of medical setting do you like working in the most – a hospital? A small family practice?

Other reasons why clinical rotations are important include:

  • Making a good impression with your superiors, which will help you earn a great letter of recommendation for residency.
  • Gaining experience and knowledge to help you prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE Step 2).
  • Developing a good bedside manner with patients.
  • Many students end up getting residencies and jobs where they perform their clinical rotations, so making a good impression is key!

How to prepare for clinical rotations

Preparing in advance for your clinical rotations not only gives you a competitive edge but you will have peace of mind when you need it the most. Here are some important ways to get organized and prepared for the best clinical rotation experience:

  • Research the type of rotations you’ll be experiencing and set a schedule for each one.
  • Sharpen your skills on the specialties you’ll be completing and familiarize yourself with factors like common illnesses and diagnoses.
  • Meet with a mentor or older medical student for his or her advice, experience, and insight on clinical rotations. This can be one of your best resources.
  • Plan the commute to your facility and do a practice run. Punctuality is a must!

Best practices during your clinical rotations

You’ve made it to your clinical rotations and are prepared for an amazing experience. Now is the time to start off on the right foot, make a great impression and put your knowledge to the test. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your clinical rotation experience:

  • Be on time, every day. Arriving early is even better. Punctuality shows your superiors you are dedicated and responsible.
  • Discuss physicians’ expectations of what is—and is not—acceptable on the job. Having a clear set of guidelines and knowing what is expected from you is key to a successful beginning.
  • Practice professionalism. Treat your team with respect, ask higher-level questions, and be attentive to your surroundings. And always leave your area cleaner than how you found it.
  • Keep an open mind about choosing a field of specialty. What you once thought would not be for you may in fact turn out to be “the one.”
  • Develop an excellent bedside manner. Remember: You are treating the patient, not the disease. Now is the time to get your head out of the textbooks and work on your communication skills.
  • Take excellent notes and refer back to them.
  • Network with your peers. Your peers can be your greatest asset throughout the process, so lean on each other for help and support. It can only enhance your experience.
  • Be a team player. Building a good relationship with doctors, nurses, and staff will be among the best ways to gain knowledge and mutual respect.

Maintain your wellbeing

Finding a work-life balance is critical for a successful clinical rotation experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the demanding schedule. That’s why it’s important to carve out some personal time to connect with family and friends to recharge your body, mind, and spirit.

Read our blogs, “How to Manage the Stress of Medical School,” and “Mental Health Awareness Month: Why Medical Students are Higher Risk,” for helpful tips on creating and maintaining a healthy mindset.

How Xavier helps make the clinical rotation connection

XUSOM has an ongoing commitment to building a network of established hospitals and clinical institutions across the Unites States and Canada. Over the years, we have established several relationships with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-approved teaching hospitals and medical centers—with the majority of our students completing their rotations in the United States. View a list of the most current facilities we work with here.

Do you have a dream of becoming a doctor? The time couldn’t be better. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States may see a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 doctors by 2034—in both the primary and specialty fields. So the demand for doctors over the next ten years will undoubtedly increase, which means higher salaries and better benefits.

Pursuing a medical degree at XUSOM can turn your dream into a reality. Apply today.