Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The M3 Merry Go-Round

As an M1 and M2 everyone's ultimate goal is to finally wade their way out of the swamp of basic sciences and into the fairyland of clinical skills.  Now that I'm a majority of the way through my M3 year my understanding of its purpose has most certainly shifted. 

At the most basic level third year clerkships allows medical students a taste of all of the core rotations: Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Pediatrics.  Different schools have different time periods allotted to each but for the most part each of these lasts between 6 and 12 weeks.

There is a massive amount of variability associated with clerkships experiences based on many things.  The residents and attendings you work with and other members of your team have a tremendous impact on your experiences as does the actual hospital where you are working.  Some medical schools have their students rotate in house (at their own institution) for most of their rotations while others do a combination of in house and alternate sites.  This too significantly impacts a student's experience because the latter set up requires the student to consistently readjust to a new environment quite literally like a different hospital and likely a new electronic medical record and a variety of other infrastructural differences.  This is all layered atop the obvious difficulty in constantly being moved from one rotation to another. 

One of the biggest challenges for M3 years is being flexible and readjusting quickly to an ever changing environment.  The clerkship experience is built to show you a little bit of everything, something of an sampler platter of medicine and thus by the time you become comfortable and mildly adequate in your role you're whisked off to another place where you are once again a deer in the headlights.  

When I started out this year I thought the purpose of these clerkships was to see a wide array of medical practice and see what we liked.  Like walking through a restaurant kitchen and sampling a bit of what each chef is whipping together.  As I make my way through this process my understanding of it is starting to evolve and readjust.  

We aren't going to chose 90% of what we see, that is the nature of it.  We will choose one field of medicine and pursue that thus making a majority of our rotations useless.  But they infect will have taught us something even more valuable which is how to effectively communicate with our colleagues who will each pursue their own speciality choice. 

Communication is moving to the forefront of medicine, being able to communicate effectively with each other is the key to excellent patient care.  In 20 years when I'm an attending and have to call another physician for a patient for one thing or another, I hope I can hone my message in a way I know will make the most sense to that specialist.  This is the only time in my career I will so fluidly be able to move from one speciality to another and after just a few days come to be accepted as part of the team vs. a visitor. 

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