Acing the Away Rotation

Fourth year of medical school may be one of the best years of your life. You’re able to personalize your rotations to what you want to experience. You get back some vacation time. But there are some big challenges--you become a part of the match process and get to do some away rotations.

But looking past the applications, fees, and personal statements, it’s actually an experience that expands your horizon, especially since these away rotations can be glimpses into what training can be like in a certain hospital. So to make it easier, here are six tips to help you ace your away rotation.

1.  Do your applications early.

Enough said. If you know which programs you want to visit, take a look at what they will need and get it prepared ahead of time. More competitive programs will fill their fourth year spots early, and you don’t want to miss your chance.

2. Don’t be afraid to explore new places

Keep your mind open when it comes to picking rotations. Though your main connection will be to a hospital or program, this may be an once-in-a-lifetime chance to live in a city you never thought you would. It also doesn’t hurt to do a rotation far from your geographic area to show prospective programs that you would be willing to move there.

3. Prepare

These rotations will not necessarily have the days of lectures covering basic information like previous clerkships. The burden is on you to make sure you have the general knowledge you will need to see patients. Make sure you have the right textbooks, apps, and tools you’ll need at the beginning of your rotation.

4. Ask residents what they do outside of the hospital

Though as a resident you’ll feel like you live in the hospital, you will actually have time to have a life. As a fourth year student, ask your residents what else they are doing and how much time they have for everything else. Residency is important, but so is how you are able to live outside of the hospital.

5. Remember that you are being looked at…

Something to ALWAYS keep in mind. There are only so many things you can get from an application, and this is the time to show all your other great qualities. Show the program you’re a good team member or how hard working you are. This is definitely not the time to slack off.

6.  But know what’s more important is what you feel about the rotation

This is as much an interview for a program as it is for you. Don’t be afraid to ask everybody questions. How happy are the residents? How do they fit in in the hospital? Where do people work after they train? Does this kind of learning environment work for you? Even if you decide you don’t like it, at least that’s more information for you to work with in the match. And who knows, you might just find your perfect residency.