Been there. Done that. Every attending, resident, and intern has at one point in time been a medical student. After the second year of medical school, third year med students cautiously jump into their clinical roles on various required rotations. At this time step 1 has been passed and the science behind the medicine is in your brain..somewhere. The transition to clinical practice is a big step and all of the realities that we face in medicine (insurance companies, low reimbursements, defensive medicine in the face of litigation) all collide with the idealistic and altruistic reasons of why we all chose to go to medical school. However, this is also a huge time of learning and the excitement of the medical student's opportunity to finally participate in patient care. This new role in patient management trumps it all. I have included a few comments on how to be an effective, efficient, and helpful medical student on any hospital rotation.
-Read about the specialty before beginning the rotation (this is the time when you figure out what you want to go into).
-Always be on time.
-Ask a lot of questions, this is your time to learn (and you are paying a lot for it).
-Know your role (and if you do it well, people will notice).
-No job is too small, no task too mundane (you learn something from everything) so... be familiar with laboratory values, how to dip urine, where to get supplies, how to do a rectal exam, how to do an ekg.
-Stop by and talk with your patients, get to know them, they are your best teachers in medicine and in life.
-Take every opportunity to discuss your seniors specialties with them (to know what surgery, emergency medicine, ob, peds is really like).
-Think 2 steps ahead of the resident working with you. get lab values without being asked, have materials ready without being asked, print off CT reports without being asked.
-Never do any sort of procedure without asking permission, reading up on it, and having supervision.
-Understand that it is OK if you do not know something. Show motivation to learn it.
-Do reading on your own time. hospital time is reserved for participating as a team member.
-Always know that we need and depend on your help.
-Smile. be patient. be courteous. make friends.
-Go to the bathroom on your own. no need to ask permission.
-Attitude is everything.
-Do not check your style at the door. wrinkle free scrubs. clean white coat. notebook to write down little things you learn.
Follow these rules and you will find success, find friends, learn much, and find the value of the hard work needed in any field in medicine. Good Luck!