MD/PhD's returing to the wards

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Airborne, Jun 17, 2002.

  1. Airborne

    Airborne Senior Member

    Jun 15, 2002
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    Hey all:

    After years of frustration in graduate school, it's time to re-enter medical school as a 3rd year!

    Problem is that I have forgotten EVERYTHING! I've a bit of time before I head back in, but wonder what I should focus on?

    Honestly, I've forgotten probably 50% of it all, and am worried that I am going to get slammed on the wards - Especially when the fresh, and eager, new MS III's that have just been studying weeks (? Months) for the boards emerge...

    Any advice?

    While I generally understand that P = MD, and have in the past not been worried about the honors thing, I am very interested in surgical subspecialties (ie ENT) and want to ensure I don't come across as a lost soul...

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
    Moderator Emeritus

    Jun 4, 2001
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    Attending Physician
    Although you're ahead of me in the game, I can give you some advice that I've picked up from more senior students. Yes the 3rd years that have just studied for the boards will have more book knowledge on hand. It is completely normal to feel that way you do.

    Remember however that you have learned the scientific method, which is actually used quite a bit in medicine and on the wards (i.e. forming a hypothesis, testing it, interpreting results, doing follow-up). You have expanded your critical thinking skills, which the first two years of med school tends to stifle, but is what graduate school is all about. You're also probably a bit more mature than the average student. Furthermore, through your PhD you have learned to present data and communicate complex information to others. These things will all help you do well on the wards. You'll quickly pick up the skills you need and the knowledge will come back. Be sure to read up on your patients and their problems. What really impresses attendings and residents more than raw knowledge, is your ability to communicate, work with a team, do good write-ups, develop rapport with patients and their families, and show enthusiasm, interest, maturity, and thoughtfulness in interpersonal interactions.

    I hope this helps. :D
  4. mrp

    mrp Member

    May 9, 2001
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    I was in your shoes exactly 1 year ago, an MD/PhD returning to the wards after 4 very painful years in grad school. I too felt that I remebered nothing.

    Don't worry--you will do fine. The above poster nailed it on the head--attendings value a good, concise presentation which encapsulates all the important info about a patient within 5 minutes over most anything else. Additionally, they expect you to know everything about your patients. Neither of these things has any bearing on what you remember from med school. And, you may be surprised at what you remember with a little prompting. Although I've forgotten the details, things come back very easily with only a minimal amount of studying.

    In my experience, the keys to success in 3rd year are:
    1) Read about your patients.
    2) learn how to present concisely.
    (this comes with experience.
    i'm still working at it.)
    3) show up on time
    4) look interested.
    5) be helpful and enthusiastic.
    6) accept criticism gracefully.

  5. Airborne

    Airborne Senior Member

    Jun 15, 2002
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    Thanks for the replies - I'll cross my fingers when it all begins.

    I suppose all Md/PhD-ers face the same challenge, and all come out in the end.

    One more question - After acquiring the investigative skills, how difficult is it to keep active in research in the clinical years, and for you residents out there, during residency?

    For one who truly enjoys delving into the ol' adage of bench-to-bedside, it will be extremely hard to put it all aside for the next few years.

    Let me know how opportunities (and perhaps more importantly time) fare...

    Kind regards,

  6. 1. Thing will indeed feel "normal" soon

    2. P may = MD but not ENT
    Don't be fooled and don't become complacent. In competitive fields, esp surgical ones, the triad of grades (including # of H's, bottom line of dean's letter, AOA etc), board scores and recs will be the foundation of a successful application. The PhD is icing not the cake. So, get as many Hs as you can without being a gunner; if your USMLE I is low, take II early; and secure at least 2 or 3 outstanding clinical letters (from surgeons if going into surgical field). With these other things taken care of, your PhD CAN (but DON'T assume it WILL) help your application considerably.

    3. The most important thing in clinics, as in life, is just showing up. So, show up ON TIME AND PREPARED. Be organized and work hard. In surgery, initiative, independence, confidence but humility, hard work and anticipation are crucial.

    4. Read an hour every day and your fund of knowledge will be more than solid.

    5. If you are organized and good at compartmentalizing, you will be able to do research during clinics. Two things to consider. One, clinical research - try to find a mentor in your wanted field with whom you can do some clinical research. It's good to learn how to write clinically and will help your application (CV and rec letter). Two, basic science - either do something crazy or more practically work on a WELL-DEFINED problem that will likely yield an INTERESTING answer.

    6. Have fun and be on the lookout for perplexing clinical problems...

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