Blog | Friday, July 21, 2017

Advice for new third year medical students and soon to be interns

Learning clinical medicine is difficult. It often seems overwhelming. I offer this advice, as I have for many years to students.

Assume that you will be confused and overwhelmed each time you start a rotation. Some rotations take longer before you feel comfortable. My specialty, internal medicine, is usually the most confusing when you start. If you feel like you are drinking from a fire hose, you are not alone. Amazingly, rotation after rotation, students start to feel comfortable in around week three or four.

Maximize your learning from patients. I recommend keeping a notebook (either paper and pen or smartphone app). Each day write down two to four things that you know you should better understand. Often these points were discussed on rounds. Spend a brief amount of time reading about that point.

As an example, today we discussed CKD stages. Several learners (I include interns and residents) suggested that they wanted to better remember these stages. I sent them an article to help their study.

If you do this every day you will not have to cram as much.

Examine as many patients with physical findings as possible. Ask your peers if they have any patients with murmurs or other physical findings. The physical exam can be very useful, but only if you practice it!

Follow up patients after you leave the service. You need to learn as much as possible from each patients. But your learning depends on the feedback of what happens to the patients.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and is the Regional Associate Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He still makes inpatient rounds over 100 days each year. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.