Top Qualities in a Medical Student

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by sykosomatik, Mar 18, 2007.

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  1. sykosomatik

    sykosomatik 2+ Year Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    What do you think are the top three qualities that attendings/residents look for in a medical student when they are doing their 3rd year rotations?

    Intelligence? Diligence? Demeanor? Efficiency? Enthusiasm? Which qualities...?
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  3. KidDr

    KidDr Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2004
    someplace warm

    1. sense of humor and overall ability to interact with people (patients, families, other students, residents, nurses, etc) like a normal human being

    2. works hard, follows up on things, knows patients well

    3. both teachability AND the ability to learn independently
  4. ericdamiansean

    ericdamiansean High Profiler 7+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    Someone has an essay due:laugh:

    You can't survive with 3

    You need a good sense of humor, diligent, professional, ethical, able to owe up to your mistakes and admit ignorance, confident, sharp and some enthusiasm
  5. DoctorPLASTIC

    DoctorPLASTIC Banned Banned

    Mar 11, 2007
    Just imitate DP-:)
  6. sponch

    sponch Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Palo Alto, CA
    the best advice i got before 3rd year was "don't be annoying". it has served me well and earned me many honors. honestly, people, the clinical year is not difficult. half of it is showing up on time. one quarter is hard work (reading a lot, hustling to help the team take care of patients). one quarter is looking good (personal grooming, speaking confidently to a group, sounding like you know what you're doing, getting the lingo).

    for many students showing up on time was a real problem. they never got honors.

    for those who managed to show up on time, some didn't want to study anymore or felt above being "scutted". they rarely got honors.

    for those who showed up on time and worked hard, some simply had problems presenting themselves in the best light, whether it was because of their personal habits or coming off with confidence and poise. they probably deserved honors and may have even come close many times, but unfortunately sometimes you don't get what you deserve.
  7. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Bingo. Most of us start 3rd year all freaked out and thinking we need to be superstars from the get go. Assuming "yourself" is a fairly normal person, just be that.
  8. thewebthsp

    thewebthsp Shoobeedoowap 10+ Year Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Build up your fund of knowledge as much/as often as possible
    Do 1-2 things outside of the hospital so you have "reserve"
    Be on top of your patients

    Be in shape
    Come on time
    act confidently (but not arrogantly)

    have integrity
  9. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    The importance of this advice cannot be overstated.:thumbup:
  10. avhart

    avhart Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2002
    1. sincerely care about your patients
    2. sincerely want to learn as much as possible
    3. sincerely want to work hard and make the residents' lives easier

    More practically: practice active listening skills during rounds and teaching sessions with your attendings/residents (eye contact, nodding, etc), ask appropriate questions at appropriate times, say "oh, I will do that" as often as possible--even if "that" is getting a calculator or entering an order or making an appointment or calling for a film read or whatever (meaning do the boring tasks with enthusiasm, too!). Always try to keep yourself busy (with actual tasks) before your resident needs to tell you what needs to be done. Always treat your patients like customers--bring them water or soda, get the extra blanket yourself rather than telling the nurse, etc. Never leave without asking "what else can I do for you before I go?" which point my residents generally say "go home." Help your residents with any patients you're not following if they need help getting stuff done. Never, ever, ever, ever try to get a leg up on your fellow students. Page them if something's going on, tell them info you overheard about their patients, share teaching sessions with them, and just generally watch out for each other. Residents and attendings notice these things--if you're the one person none of the other med students likes, it makes you look bad...not everyone else.

    Most of third year is not about knowing stuff--it's about knowing how to learn about stuff and ask good questions, perform well on the shelf exams, and proving that you can work hard, care about patients, get along with others, and make good decisions. I agree that showing up with a good attitude is at least 50% of third year success.

    But part of the problem of telling someone all this is that I believe most of this is hard (impossible) to fake for an entire year (life). You have to actually enjoy what all this is about. For me, taking care of patients is so much fun. I have really "loved" all my patients this year, miss them when they or I leave, and care about what happens to them. Without that, this year wouldn't have been the same. In order to feel this way about patients, you really have to make the effort to take ownership of their care. A resident I worked with early in the year always tells me to "be aggressive" every time I see him--and not in an annoying way, but in a care about your patients more than anyone else on the team way. In doing so, you help the patient, the team, and yourself. I think the beauty of third year is that because we are so young and know so little we have the chance to learn from nearly every patient and interaction we have. If your primary motivation is something other than trying to get good grades and evals, it will be easier to get up and go to work every morning.

    I'm sure people are going to hate me for this post...but I'm at the end of third year and not too it worked for me.
  11. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才 SDN Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2003
    Confident but unobstrusive

  12. Samir Desai

    Samir Desai Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Several years ago, there was a study done looking at the importance of personal qualities in the medical school admissions process. In searching through the literature, the authors identified 87 personal qualities that they deemed relevant to the practice of medicine. Some of the qualities already mentioned in this thread are on that list as well as many others. As you might suspect, there is no consensus on which qualities should be at the top of such a list. Definitely worth looking at this article for this list (Albanese MA, Snow MH, Skochelak SE, Huggett KN, Farrell PM. Assessing personal qualities in medical school admissions. Acad Med. 2003;78(3):313-21.).

    By the way, avhart makes some great suggestions. I agree wholeheartedly with his comments.
  13. Thaitanium

    Thaitanium Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    Varies depending on who's judging you.
  14. tomatoattack

    tomatoattack Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2006
    I think this person has totally hit the nail on the head!
  15. ThinkingIM

    ThinkingIM 2+ Year Member

    Oct 26, 2006
    I've had a lot of success in 3rd year simply by being interested but not overbearing, being reliable, talking to the consulting docs of my pts without being asked to (eg, if your pt gets an echo go to the cardiologist reading and talk to him/her about it). Don't ever show up your interns/residents even if you can, and generally just try to make the life of the interns/residents easier. This simple (and seemingly common sense) approach has served me very well.

    Just my 2 cents.
  16. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2000
    I agree with every single word in this post! :thumbup:
  17. fang

    fang 7+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2003
    I'll chime in. I remember reading these kinds of posts before 3rd year and thinking, what if I'm one of those people who rocked the 1st 2 years but suck at clincals? I was worried because my personality is not naturally aggressive, gregarious, or confident. (I can be confident, but I'm a poor actor... I have to generally beleive in what I'm trying to communicate.) On the other hand, I'm a good listener and pull my own weight on a team.

    Anyway, it worked out fine for me. I worked hard, was "aggresive" in the sense that I tried to be as much like the intern as I could, but I didn't try to change my personality.

    I like all of the advice above, I'd just add that you can adapt your own style to the situation and do well. There's a difference between projecting poise/confidence and bullsh!tting, and I think experienced attendings and alert residents see through the bullsh!t pretty easily.

    Also, I echo what avhart said about finding something you enjoy in every rotation and focusing on that.
  18. pillowhead

    pillowhead Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2002
    Personally, I think these people are very few and far between and are generally a myth perpetuated by people who struggled in the first couple of years hoping that the clinical years will magically happen for them. For the most part, people who struggled in the preclinical years are frequently the people who struggle in the wards years. And folks that do really well in the first couple of years tend to keep doing well in the clinical years. Of course there are exceptions, but I think some people feel better trying to convince themselves that anyone who does well in the preclinical years and rocks step 1 must be a complete social misfit. Those AOA people in my class are incredibly smart and some of the nicest, most social people, too.
  19. avhart

    avhart Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2002
    I disagree that if you "struggled" in the first two years you will probably "struggle" in the clinical years. I hated the first two years because the skill set was memorizing notes and that was about it...and so in that sense I was pretty miserable and it was a painful experience. When I got to third year it was like...this is super easy. It's a completely different skill set (one I personally was much more used to and much better at) and I think that is why people who flew through the first two years aren't guaranteed success. I also think people who are really good at being told what to memorize and then doing that can struggle when they get to third year where it is much more self-driven learning.

    I do agree that top students in the preclinical years are generally great people to be basically just means they work hard and are really, really good at memorizing.
  20. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    There is still tons to memorize as a third year, except that you use review books and stuff like that instead of class notes. Sure you add the "skill set" of interpersonal relations but you still have shelf exams and stuff like that...
  21. tr

    tr inert protoplasm 10+ Year Member

    Nov 17, 1999
    This entire post was right on. Someone should sticky it. The best way to look interested is to be interested.

    I enjoyed third year as well. I never faked anything or worried about how I came across. I honored the rotations that I sincerely enjoyed and cared about. I did not honor the rotations that I did not enjoy or care about, which was perfectly fine with me and I matched to my #1 choice at a great place.

    I did want to say to the OP that, for the purposes of trying to impress people, I think attendings and residents look for different things. (And again these are my purely academic observations since, as I said, I went through third year without consciously trying to impress anyone.)

    1) know your patients (always be the one with the most recent lab values, event updates, etc. and be able to discuss their conditions knowledgeably)
    2) look interested, ask good and relevant questions
    3) know the answers to questions you are asked (involves paying attention to what's going on around you; lots of questions concerned things I'd learned from listening during rounds)

    1) be of use to the team in any way you can (pay attention, be involved, run down to radiology to check on your patient's scan before being told - then when they tell you to, you've already got the info)
    2) know your patients
    3) have a friendly, easygoing, flexible personality

    Regarding scut, some things labeled as 'scut' are things that need to get done (e.g., stat blood draws, dropping vitals updates in the charts, calling outside hospitals for records, etc.). Somebody's got to do them - if not you, then the intern or resident. My feeling about this is that if the task needs to be done and you can do it, then you should. I don't really consider this 'scut'.

    I can think of one or two times during third year when I was asked to do something that seemed like make-work (e.g., stat vitals that really weren't so important). In this scenario I tended to make jokes about being scutted out but did the task anyway (as I probably would for anyone who asked me for a minor favor in any other situation).
  22. mrdowntoearth

    mrdowntoearth Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    Being arrogant, I hope, is not one of the 87 personal qualities.
  23. SLUser11

    SLUser11 CRS 10+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2005
    1. Being female.
    2. Being hot.
    3. Being willing to have sex with your surgical resident, and not tell anyone, especially his wife.......:rolleyes:

    It also helps to be smart and be a hard worker, but it's not as important......
  24. Samir Desai

    Samir Desai Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, TX
    The skill set that is valued during the clinical years of medical school is different than the one that is valued during the basic science years. For this reason, you will see that some students who do well during the basic science years are not able to keep it up during the clinical years. Students who were average (or even "struggled") may be able to shine during the clinical years.
  25. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    Know when to be quiet. Cooperate and graduate.
  26. velo

    velo bottom of the food chain 5+ Year Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Being me has to be high on the list...good luck with that one...

    seriously, tr and avhart already pretty much nailed it
  27. RadGirl

    RadGirl 2+ Year Member

    Aug 30, 2006
    This is exactly what my philosophy was during third year and I honored every clerkship.
  28. bones4u

    bones4u Residency>>>Med School 2+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    Gread advice all around. 3rd year is about using your interpersonal skills along with the fund of knoweldge you acquired in your 1st/2nd year to
    1) help in the care of the patient
    2) help your team out
    3) learn even more about patient care

    Maximize these by - showing up on time, helping your team (including fellow students), and sounding like you know what you're talking about. And if you really don't, then read what you can. often you can tell who's continuing to learn while on the rotation.

    and the most important thing - be good company - and don't be annoying!

    Try to look like this guy: :cool: or this guy: :)
    but definately not these: :sleep: :confused: :scared:

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