I’ve spent two weeks in the hospital on my Internal Medicine rotation, and I’ve learned a thing or two. Of course I’ve learned a ton about how to diagnose and treat patients, but I’ve learned a lot more about how to be successful as a medical student. Here are things you definitely need to make it through third year rotations.
1. White Coat
If you don’t have your white coat on, nobody will take you seriously. (Most people still won’t take you seriously, but at least they know who you are.)
2. Comfortable shoes
The hospital is a big place. You are going to be on your feet all day. There is always a chair for the doctor, but never one for the med student.
You don’t have anything important to write down, but at some point your attending will ask you for a pen, and you will be ready.
If you are walking around the hospital in the morning and you don’t have a cup of coffee in your hand, you look like an IDIOT. Get some coffee. Trust me. You will need the caffeine.
5. Smart Phone
Smart phones are a must. Not only will you be able to look up all the things you know (which is basically everything) but it will give you something to pretend to be doing when everyone else is working and you are just sitting there observing.
When in doubt, “Fake it ’til you make it.” I am notorious for having a bad sense of direction. I don’t know how many times I have been to ICU, but I still get lost. The key is to pretend like you know where you’re going. Walk with purpose. If you get to a dead end, wait a few seconds until the hallway you just left clears out, then proceed.
7. Don’t Make Eye Contact
Never, NEVER make eye contact when you don’t have to. Of course make eye contact with your own patients, etc. But if you make eye contact with a random nurse or a patient, they will probably ask you a question. Trust me. You don’t know the answer.
You are the low man on the totem pole. Everyone knows the short white coat you’re wearing means you are clueless. Take every opportunity you can to learn, whether it be from your attending, the nurses, or your patient.
Always be ready to learn. Always say yes to opportunities to become a better doctor.
10. Sense of Humor
You are going to look stupid during rotations. The other day some surgeon asked me to tell him about one of his patients I was seeing. I started by saying, “She has pancreatic cancer…” He said, “Well, I know that.” If you can’t laugh at yourself, it is going to be a long year.