Deciding between different away rotations

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Jul 30, 2015
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Which one would you choose to rotate at?

Option A, where you have lots of friends that work at the hospital and even friends in the specialty you want to apply to. There’s also family nearby, but with whom you don’t really get along with.

Option B, a hospital where you don’t know anyone, but it’s in a nicer city but away from home and you have the opportunity to make friends and connections. There’s also a few friends that live a couple hours away, but none in the city where the hospital is and also no family members in the area.

Btw, I live in an okay city atm, but I’ve lived my whole life here and am considering moving, just to see what’s out there. I’m not sure if I should double down and rotate at a local hospital with connections or try my hand at rotating somewhere else with no connections and hope to secure an interview there.

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Some of this entails your own personal strengths, needs, and preferences. I'll give my own thoughts from a professional and from my own personal perspective.

From a professional perspective, it is a GREAT idea to see new places because you'll see how things are done elsewhere and get a wider breadth of experience. The culture of care, demographics, and setup of different hospitals can be very different from one another. In my own specialty, for example, although most inpatient psychiatric units have similarities, there certainly are differences that are interesting and informative to see. Additionally, away rotations can be a great way for new sites and faculty to get to know you. If you're potentially planning to apply to residency at the away site someday, it can be a good way to show the faculty at that site that you're a good fit for their program--in addition to seeing whether it might be right for you. Maybe you see it and like it there or maybe you see it and you don't like it there. I did an away rotation in medical school at a different hospital (same city, though) and it changed how I ordered my match list. I moved one site up by one spot and one site down by one spot on my residency match list. It likely ended up changing where I went to residency because I matched at the higher ranked spot.

From a personal perspective, I myself trained entirely in New York City. I think I benefited from the support and closeness of friends and family at the time, so I think it would have been challenging for me to go away for the entirety of medical school to a different city at that time. Medical school is hard, I was young, and I was still growing into my eventual self both professionally and personally. I really benefited from that support at that time in life. That said, an away rotation is not necessarily the entirety of medical school. My medical school was in Brooklyn and my big away rotation was in Manhattan--only a train ride away; not actually that far. I also know people who had a lot of anxiety in medical school and really needed the support.

I guess I'm saying that there are good professional reasons to try a new place, but only you can decide whether you personally are prepared to make the trek elsewhere. If it's just one rotation, though, it might be worth a try. A single rotation isn't forever!