According to Dr Robert Grant, Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Studies at St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, a significant part of being a medical school student is understanding the theoretical knowledge of science, but an equally crucial component is the tangible difference that quality in-hospital training can make on an aspiring physician.
Speaking to Omnia Health Insights, he explains that in-hospital training starts with exposure to the different disciplines. "No one knows what the life of a practising physician in a certain speciality is really like until they get to live it. Personally, I went to medical school because I wanted to be an ophthalmologist. It wasn't until I rotated through other disciplines—and spent some time in ophthalmology and realised I didn't really want to be an ophthalmologist—that I settled in the surgical world, and then ultimately on a career as a reconstructive plastic surgeon."
It's also important for students to socialise as a physician to understand the important responsibilities that you're given with the privilege of caring for other human beings. Additionally, every rotation is an audition toward residency training. Every student's work is noticed by their peers, the residents, and the faculty, who want to get the best residents they can into their programme.
"For students to make a good impression during their clinical studies, they should practice three main qualities - they should be available, be affable, and be interested," Dr Grant says. "Particularly nowadays, with the team-based nature of clinical care, they're going to be working with clinical colleagues in other disciplines who are going to be sources of referral for them, and the students would refer to them in the future. You go through life with a cohort of peers who you trained with and got educated with."
If a faculty member or a resident is doing some clinical research, students can consider getting involved. Dr Grant explains that contributing to the fund of knowledge is a fantastic way for students to make a good impression.
Dr Grant also reminds us that the administrative staff are essential to the practice of every physician. "When it comes time to evaluating students for residency positions, they get an equal vote. So, make sure that you treat them with the respect that they deserve and have earned."
When it comes to making the most out of their clinical rotations, Dr Grant highlights that every rotation that medical students participate in adds to their perspective. However, to make the best out of each speciality experienced, students should keep an open mind and remain unbiased as much as possible.
"Rotations offer an opportunity for medical students to get practical training by implementing what they've studied theoretically. Therefore, they must familiarise themselves with the illnesses that their patients are suffering from. Read as much as possible to be well-prepared. Equally as important is taking this opportunity to clear as many doubts as possible, so students shouldn't be shy to ask any questions, but at the same time, having an eye for detail and learning from doctors and other interns is also crucial."