Oct 28

Tips For Your First Clinical Rotation


  1. Contact your preceptor beforehand!
    Confirm the hours, the location, and the appropriate dress. Although I did look up the directions beforehand, Google Maps led me to the middle of two train tracks and told me I’d arrived at the clinic. For the next clinic I was supposed to show up at, it led me to a graveyard. …so if you don’t know where the place is, it might be a good idea to try getting there once before your actual rotation. :]
  2. Understand that it’s okay to be wrong.
    You most likely will not be given enough responsibility to actually have someone else’s life in your hands yet. Just learn from it and try not to make the same mistake twice!
  3. Show up early. (Or at the very least, don’t be late.)
    Be proactive and show interest and enthusiasm! Staying late can probably also score you extra points (unless they tell you to go home).
  4. Be nice to the rest of the staff.
    Get to know who they are and what they do! They can contribute to making/breaking you, and if they like you, they’re more likely to be willing (and happy) to teach you.
  5. Have friends that you can talk to/commiserate with.
    Not every day will be a good one. Making stupid mistakes, being pimped and not knowing the answers, giving a patient bad news…it can get really tough, and having someone to talk to can really help! Pep talks can be really helpful when you’re feeling unjustifiably incompetent.
  6. Take notes!
    I kept a notebook in the coat of my white pocket to document patient encounters, questions that I came up with that I couldn’t ask right away, concepts that my preceptor explained to me, even just quotes throughout the day (funny, touching, or otherwise).
  7. If you don’t know something, ask!
    It might also be a good idea to find out early on what your preceptor’s expectations for you happen to be. About halfway through your rotation, ask your preceptor if there’s anything you can improve on.
  8. If at all possible, try to keep some sort of a set schedule/routine.
    Try to leave some time each night (if possible) to study for shelf exams and boards. It’d be a good idea to go through your student clinical manual/syllabus (or whatever your school’s equivalent is) to see what the school expects you to learn from that rotation. Keep copies of all your documents! Also set aside some time to exercise and/or destress + perhaps hang out with good company, if you have the opportunity!
  9. Figure out your fooding situation.
    Will you be given time for lunch? Do they typically go out for food? Do drug reps feed you? If there’s no real set time allotted for meals, would it be frowned upon to stash snacks in your pockets and eat when free moments pop up? I tend to prepare most, if not all, of my meals (unless I know someone will be feeding me that day) because it’s way cheaper, faster, and healthier.
  10. Give yourself room to at least kindasorta have a life!
    These next two years are the only time that your only real expectationn is to just show up (and to do the best you can). Try to enjoy it. Learn as much as you can, but also recognize that your grades aren’t everything anymore. Step 1 is behind you! (This last one was what my preceptor told me on my last day there.)

This document will  probably be helpful to you as well! :]

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  1. genevieve @ gratitude & greens

    I’m not in your field, but these are all great tips! Hope your clinical rotation is going well!
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens recently posted…Almond Butter Brownies With Sea SaltMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! The hours are long, but I get to do a lot and my preceptors are very willing to teach me, so it’s been pretty awesome thus far! :]

  2. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    These are great tips for jumping into anything new!
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…11 Ways I’m Staying Focused, Productive, And Organized Right NowMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Some of em’ were things I definitely should’ve considered before actually getting into it, but…better late than never! 😛

  3. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    Good going, girl. I wish you all the luck. I have a few posts on dealing with Medical residency as a spouse, and I did a guest post for Sara of Loving on the Run about the first year of residency. Survive rotations, but stay you.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Marathon Weight Gain and Why It’s a Good ThingMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! I’ll do my best! My favorite part of it right now is still just being able to take care of the patients. I’ll root around for those posts! :] I hope I make it into an awesome residency someday! *-*

  4. Nancy

    Yes! Love point #3. I used to be a ward clerk (and before that, a housekeeper) at a hospital for a couple of years while I was saving up to go to school. You wouldn’t beleive how many people looked down at you, simply because of your job.

    1. Farrah

      That’s horrible. :[ I apologize on their behalf. :[ It’s awesome that you had the ambition to get a job to put yourself through school though! I feel like so many people lack motivation and self-discipline these days!

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