Friday, February 19, 2010

Away Electives

Deciding to do "away rotations" at another institution is always a big headache for 3rd year med students. Should you do them? Where should you go? Will it be helpful? What should you do there? etc. etc.

Should you do them? - If you are applying to a competitive field, I would strongly recommend you do at least 1 away elective. For something super competitive like Derm, I would recommend at least 2. For less competitive fields, away rotations are optional.

Where should you go? - Only do away rotations at institutions that you could easily see yourself at for residency. Away rotations are "auditions", but at the same time, it is for you to decide if you want to do residency there. I would also choose to do an away rotation at an institution in which I would be considered underqualified (by step scores, etc.). This can get your foot in the door at places your foot couldn't have gone before. Also if I am already fully qualified to get an interview at a program, I don't gain much by doing an away rotation. In fact, an away rotation could hurt if I don't get along with residents, don't put enough work in, slack off, etc. etc. Analyze whether you have more to gain or more to lose before choosing an away rotation.

Will it be helpful? - There is an unwritten rule that most students that do an away rotation will get an interview. At some places, not rotating there means no interview (very selective places). If you have less than stellar scores and want to do residency at Harvard, DO an away rotation there. Away rotations can also be helpful if you are really considering a location and just want to see how the program works. Still, you need to work hard.

What should you do there? - While there, I would strongly recommend setting up a meeting with the residency program director. Let them know you are interested. Come early to the rotation and stay late. Offer to help with anyone's research project. Be a team player. In other words, plan to work harder than you have ever worked. Your hard work could get you into a residency that you otherwise would never be able to obtain.

Don't feel pressured into doing away rotations, because everyone else is doing it. Many people don't do away rotations at all, and they do just fine.

Ob/Gyn Rotation

Before I even begin talking about my Ob/Gyn rotation, I would like to offer one piece of advice: As soon as you get to the Obstetrics floor, put on the BIGGEST booties (for your shoes) you can find. Shoes get ruined in this rotation!

Overall I really enjoyed my Ob/Gyn rotation, but I quickly learned it was not for me. My school's 2 month rotation was set-up very well. Every week, students rotate through a different specialty clinic/surgery center. It was very well planned by the clerkship director.

I prefer Gyn over Ob. You have more of a bond between you and your patients in Gyn. The stories are also much more entertaining. For example: I was asked if shaking up a coke bottle and opening it inside the vagina was effective to expel sperm. You can't make these things up.

Ob is much more intense. Lots of emotions flying around the room. Not very sanitary. Not my thing.

Another hint: When performing your end of rotation practical (OSCE), do not use slang terminology. Someone I know (not me I promise) used "vault" during the practical. It doesn't help your grade.

The rotation can be lots of fun and informative if you let it. I definitely have a greater respect for Ob/Gyn after my rotation; however, I will not be entering this field. If you love moments of chaos, spontaneity, and procedures, consider this field.


Sorry that I have been away for awhile. I plan on catching up with posts here in the near future now that everything has calmed down a bit.