OzTREKK Ambassadors: Five tips to ace your medicine clerkship
My name is Gabrielle and I’m a second-year medical student at The University of Western Australia (UWA). I’m currently in my psychiatry clerkship, and I finished my Surgery clerkship a few weeks ago, so for today’s blog, I’ll be writing a bit about tips and tricks I’ve found helpful in starting clerkship this year!
1. Be organized
My first tip is to be organized. Arrive a bit early on your first day to find out exactly where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and when to meet them. First impressions matter, so being punctual and appropriately dressed goes a long way.
Have a clear idea of any assessments or forms you’ll need signed and let your team/supervisor know so that you can block out a time that works for them to complete the assessments. Remember, everyone you’re with is being paid to be there to do important work and they’re very busy! Be organized and give them as much time as possible to organize assessments so it’s not last-minute and stressful.
2. Find a buddy
Depending on the rotation, especially in the beginning, it may be helpful to have a buddy to work with! That way you can practice with each other, whether it’s physical exams, or just presenting patient histories or assessments before presenting to one of the doctors. There’s strength in numbers, and it can be really helpful to have a friend on rotation, especially before you’re comfortable approaching patients solo.
3. Set goals
This kind of ties into the organization tip, but I cannot stress this enough: set goals for each day or each week to ensure that you’re getting as much learning out of the experience as you can.
For example, a goal could be taking histories from 5 patients a day, or performing 5 physical exams on different patients, or performing 2 of each physical exam (by system). Setting goals ensures that you’re coming in each day with a purpose, and you’re staying on top of self-directed learning.
4. Be fair and helpful when you can
As a medical student, you’ll often feel that you want to see all the patients, all the cases, all the surgeries, and so on. Enthusiasm is great, but just make sure that you
- share/split these opportunities fairly with the other medical students on your team;
- seize teaching opportunities when you can;
- help out as much as you can (which, as a med student, isn’t always that much). At least find the intern carrying patient files; and proactively ask what you can do to help!
5. Be appreciative
Remember that the team is giving time and energy to teaching you! Their official jobs as nurses, doctors, etc. are to help patients, and any teachings or tips they offer you should definitely be appreciated. Even though you’ll be placed in teaching hospitals, the teams are incredibly busy, and they’re donating their time to help you be a better student and future doctor.
It’s common etiquette to bring a little gift basket or food/treats for the team on your last day to say thank you for their help, so I’d recommend bringing something in to remind them that medical students are thankful for all their hard work!
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps!
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