As the final year of medical school comes to a close, we wish to share additional thoughts and advice about clerkship from three of our (now former) fourth year medical students Kristen Braun, Wendy Wang, and Lochlan Wilson. If you missed part 1 of this article, it can be found here: https://mmsa.online/other-news/the-story-so-far-looking-back-from-the-final-year/
What is one thing you look forward to learning during your final year?
Wendy mentioned that she is eager to navigate patient-family dynamics as well as practicing her skills during more challenging patient interviews. Lochlan on the other hand was excited to dive into more subspecialty work and to further explore his passion for psychiatry. In addition, he mentioned that during clerkship, and his pediatrics rotation in particular, one aspect that sparked his curiosity that he would like to explore further is navigating how to provide meaningful care within individuals’ social customs. “…you have all these different social moors like about kids and parenting and, you know, co-sleeping or just different ideas about parenting that come into play and half the time I’m feeling like, ‘okay what is the right move in this situation?’ and then I think that’s been challenging but it’s also [great to] learn about.” Kristen mentioned that she is excited to see what things will look like at the end of this year stating, “I’m just so excited to see how we all turn out at the end of Med 4… I am just dying waiting to see how well our class does ‘cause they’re all smart, capable people.”
What were your expectations when you first started clerkship?
While clerkship, and the opportunity to further your skills in the real world, is more than exciting, the beginning of this part of training can be quite nerve-racking. “After high school, I did an exchange program where I went and lived in Belgium for a year, and at the time… I was honestly not wanting to leave [to go there]. I had already signed up for it… but I was so stressed about leaving ‘cause I didn’t want to leave [my high school friends] behind, but I ended up having one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And I think it’s been a similar idea with clerkship where I was definitely very nervous to start it, but I knew that for me backing out would not be an option. It’s just something you have to just try and you’ll get through it,” mentioned Lochlan.
Kristen was in agreement stating, “The predominant emotion I felt before starting clerkship was terror… Again, there’s a lot of independence, but I really thought we were going to kind of be on our own, and that’s not really ever the case, like there’s always someone who’s going to be there to back you up if you need it.” Wendy felt this pressure as well, but had a few great pointers in mind that have helped her through clerkship. “In terms of expectations, I knew that I was in there for the long haul. I knew that I was supposed to show up on time, like early if anything, and always be there to ask for help and [to] try to offer help as well.”
What has been your favourite part about clerkship or your favourite experience so far?
Wendy had a very positive outlook on her experience thus far in her training stating, “Every day is a fun day for me pretty much.” She also mentioned that it was during her time in clerkship that she realized that she enjoyed inpatient medicine and particularly managing acute issues in hospital. Kristen shared this positive perspective mentioning that she has found something enjoyable about each rotation she has gone through. “…Being the primary person operating on a double amputation it’s like, you’re the one doing the bone saw and the cauterizing and the closing and like you have obviously people there to back you up, but it’s a really interesting experience…” Lochlan shared this opinion mentioning that it’s the wild and amazing experiences you get to see during clerkship that have been some of his most memorable. “I think when you’re telling people ‘Oh yeah, I got to help take a guy’s gallbladder out’ or ‘We put a guy’s bones back in his body’ – those are stories you can tell somebody outside of medicine and they get it instinctively. Or… if I tell somebody that ‘Oh yeah I got to deliver a baby’, everybody’s like ‘I was a baby! Woah!’. So I found even on rotations I have not been aiming for as my life goal, there’s still cool things to get out of it.”
What do you wish you had known before starting clerkship? What advice do you have either for those who just started or for others in the future?
“I will repeat the same advice that was given to us before we started clerkship because it’s true no matter what: be on time, be interested, that’s literally it. Like that’s the expectation for you as a med student. Have some baseline knowledge of course but as long as you’re on time, interested, and at least a tolerable person to be around, clerkship will be fine for you, and that’s all anyone’s expecting,” stated Kristen. Wendy added in some words of advice stating, “…and just offer to help if you have free time. They don’t expect you to know everything…”
Lochlan chimed in offering some advice about the dreaded NBMEs (the end-of-rotation exams) stating, “…I couldn’t get over the hump of like I would do UWorld questions and get a bunch wrong and be like ‘Well how am I supposed to know this?’ and get frustrated. But then I realized, wait that’s not the point of this, the point is you get a question wrong and then it tells you about it, so getting questions wrong is studying. And I think that was a huge hump for me to get over from pre-clerkship. But once I did, it’s a really good tool.”
A huge thank you to our Med 4s for taking the time to share their experiences and advice. Want to see more content like this? Do you have any ideas on what you would like the Rady Register to cover? Feel free to send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.