Scheduled post. Our third years will be starting their first REAL rotations soon. I thought I would share some tips for hospital rotations in honour of that very exciting milestone.
1. Ask a senior to show you around hospital
I wanted to start this as a project this year, but since I am in the rurals at the moment that wasn’t possible. There are so many shortcuts in hospitals, if you can find a kind senior med student who is willing to take you on a quick tour, it will help you so much.
2. Ask around about the particular rotation
It helps to have an idea of what to expect. Which consultant to watch out for, which tips seniors have for particular rotations, which bathrooms are the cleanest to use, which nurse to ask when the ward has run out of INR tubes.
3. …But don’t let it hold too much water
There is a lot of cynicism going around. For example, ever since first year I have dreaded Head and Neck Surgery, because everybody told me that it was awful. Well, it came and it went and it really wasn’t all that awful for me. Always remember that experiences are subjective. Try not to enter a rotation with a negative mindset.
4. Be careful
Be aware of your body. For people like me, that doesn’t come naturally. It is a learned skill. Stay out of the way of people carrying needles. Don’t slip on wet floors. Don’t bump into someone carrying a bedpan. Trust your gut – if somebody looks like trouble, don’t go it alone.
5. Adhere to the dress code
Seriously, read the dress code and for heavens’ sake just stick to it. Every single year there are complaints about female students who arrive to ward round in skimpy dresses or booty shorts. An easy rule is if you can’t see it underneath your white coat, it’s probably too short.
6.Wear good shoes
Good shoes should be comfortable (I like Green Cross, but I know there are some other good brands out there) and should be safe. Try for something that doesn’t slip easily, that won’t twist your ankle, that are CLOSED, for safety reasons. And wear your brand new work shoes a few days before work starts, so that you don’t get cramping feet…
7. Wear visors or glasses
Protect your eyes. Safety measure.
8. Know the Injury on Duty protocol
Injuries on duty suck, but if they happen you need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, just in case your superiors seem a little off-the-ball. Know where Occupa11tional Health is and where to go if something happens after-hours.
This is a little subjective, but I do believe the writing about your experiences is important. Even if you do it in a logbook fashion, recording your experiences in short-hand. It is useful to read through at times when you worry that you have no experience. And keeping log is a pretty important skill for a future doctor, in any case.
10. Don’t cheat on official logbooks
There are students who find ways of getting procedures signed off without doing them. It harms yourself and also your future patients, and when you get right down to it, do you really want to be that intern that has to learn everything from scratch?
11. Enjoy golden weekends
Golden weekends: those weekends where you have both the Saturday and the Sunday off. You need to relax and be healthy. Nobody wants to burn out in third year. Unless you actually have an exam the very next weekend, don’t open a textbook.
12. Get help if you need it
Many things are hard. The first patient you lose. The first resus that fails. Fears of ineptitude. The attitude in hospital may be that you should get over it and used to it, but it’s not true. Talk if you need to talk.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the seriousness of your job. And to be disturbed by what you see. Remember to smile whenever possible (and appropriate).