Prepping For Your Clinical Clerkship
Clinical clerkships are a vital part of your medical education that provides you with critical, on-the-job experience you will use for the rest of your career. While each clerkship focuses on a different medical specialty, preparation for them can be fairly universal if you keep a few tips in mind.
Set Up a Study System
Every clerkship (rotation) demands that you are knowledgeable of the specialty's content and practice particulars. To aid in your preparation, set up a study system that can be universally followed for each rotation you enter. Try establishing a study schedule that includes set blocks of study time, specialty journal reviews and board review questions so that you will be prepped for success.
Check Your Attitude
To survive clerkships, it is vital to be humble, open to criticism and a top-notch team player. You will be the newbie onsite, so it's imperative to keep a positive and open attitude about the people and tasks you are assigned to work with. It is also important to recognize that you are probably fretting way more than you need to about your lack of clinical skills. Findings from a study evaluating clerkships support the idea that students' expectations regarding their necessary clinical skills are considerably higher than the faculty members that work with them*.
Check Your Wardrobe
Make sure that you have appropriate clothes for your clerkships. You are embarking on a career in medicine, so it is important to dress professionally for each rotation.
When clerkship faculty were asked to rate what they thought was most important for their students to know, the following skills rated highest*.
- Communication Skills: Knowing how to communicate with both team members, patients and staff are essential for students looking to successfully traverse their clerkships.
- Taking a Comprehensive History & Review of Systems: These skills are the bread-and-butter for any Physician interaction, so be sure that your skills are top-notch.
- Performing a Full Physical Exam: Like the History and ROS, a good physical exam is at the heart of nearly every medical visit you will have so make sure that you are ready.
- Receiving Feedback: Constructive criticism is a given when you are training, so be prepared to receive it graciously. Remember that the comments were given as feedback to help you become a great Physician, not as a personal attack.
- Working as a Team Member: Teamwork is at the heart of every good clinical group. It is essential to be a great team player that is willing to carry their share of the workload.
* Marjorie Wenrich, Molly B. Jackson, Albert J. Scherpbier, Ineke H. Wolfhagen, Paul G. Ramsey & Erika A. Goldstein (2010) Ready or not? Expectations of faculty and medical students for clinical skills preparation for clerkships Medical Education Online, 15:1, DOI: 10.3402/meo.v15i0.5295
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