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Tips to really, really, really shine on a rotation

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Mar 22, 2003
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Hi guys, I'm about to start an elective (4th year) month in a surgical subspecialty that I want to go into, so I want to impress the pants off of the guys that will be writing me a letter of recommendation. What are everyone's tips?

thanks a lot

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1) Ask directly and upfront (only once) what is to be expected of you. When I did adult ortho they expected without a hint of explanation that I see clinic patients pretty much solo and then go home. When I did peds ortho, certain attendings were traumatized that I saw their patients before they did. Go figure.

2) Get pimped well. For me, that meant reading a bit beforehand, even 15 seconds before presenting a patient to an attending, bouncing ideas off a resident, and saying very quickly and decisively "I don't know" when you don't have a freakin' clue. Once I realized that pimping is for a) my learning and b) their chance to show off, things get kind of fun. :D

3) Have fun. You're paying tuition, they're not. Learn something and crack a joke or two. :laugh:

4) Always carry the specialty's cardinal tool. Ortho: Goniometer and X-ray pencil. Optho: scope. ENT: the other scope. Uro: uh....extra gloves and lube? :eek:

5) Always carry a current list of your team's patients. That sounds dumb but it just comes in handy so often when you forget what their stupid patient number is or how old they were or which room they're in.

6) If they say go home, get the heck out of there. If they want you to dawdle and get their ass kissed, they'd bend over for you.

7) Pick the residents' and attendings' brains. Reverse pimping is kind of fun too, and it's a good way to learn. Just don't space out as they start to speak (A habit I'm still trying to break)

Good luck!

-Todd MSIV
8) Get to know the nurses, techs, PAs, secretaries by name and be nice to them. They have an indominatable power of gossip, plus, they'll save your ass too.

-Todd MSIV
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Always have an extra, clean, pt list before rounds to give to attending (or chief) if he/she doesn't have one.

To follow up on the going home part...I did a visting elective in general surgery. THere was another 4th year on the trauma service there. One weekend, he was on call on Fri and I was on Sat. He stayed, and stayed, and stayed...til 2 am Sat. Seems it hadn't been busy enough for him and so he stayed hoping more trauma would come in. Everyone who saw him there (residents and attendings) figured his primary purpose in staying was to try to steal a case from me. He earned a reptuation for being a super geek that day. Don't do that. Go home when you are dismissed!! And don't even think about trying to scrub any cases that another student (esp another 4th year) might scrub. Share! (this student in question also tried to steal a splenectomy from me)
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