By Molly Lewis
During the first several months of the 4th year of med school, many students pack their bags, pre-pay their rent, and fly off to a new med school to spend four weeks on an away rotation. Sean’s post about DO audition rotations has some quality advice that applies to MD away rotations, but here is a bit more advice from my perspective. (Caveat: I only know the world of ortho away rotations. I think my advice will help with other specialties, too, but just keep that it mind).
Do I need to do away rotations?: Not all specialties expect you to do away rotations, but the traditionally “hard-to-get-into” specialties often place “rotators” (students who have done an away rotation at their program) higher on their rank list than non-rotators (or so I’ve heard). That said, regardless of what specialty you’re shooting for, if you have a program you would really like to match to, do a rotation there!
Why do an away rotation: Not only will an away rotation likely give you a better chance of getting in (coming there for four weeks helps them actually believe you when you say they’re your top choice!), but it also will show you whether you actually want to go there. A program may look great on paper, and the residents may seem great at the interview-day social event, but I feel like the only way to really get to know a program is by doing a rotation numberswiki.com
there. On an interview, you definitely can’t ask questions like “do I get food money when I’m on call?” “do the NPs/PAs (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) here actually help out?” “do you have to pay $10 for parking each time you come to the hospital?” etc. But, on an away rotation, you don’t even have to ask these “quality-of-life” type questions – you’ll see firsthand what complaints the residents have about their program, and what they love!
- Family/friends (or friends of friends!)
- Residents at the program who came from you med school
- Undergrad housing (this may work better for summer rotations when students are gone)
- a Christian girls’ house worked well for me!
- The guest room of your undergrad sorority/fraternity
- Consider buying a bike off Craigslist right when you get there (or buying one early, and arranging to pick it up when you come)
- Look for hospital / campus shuttles
- Ask residents for a ride
- Zipcar, Lyft, Sidecar, Uber, etc (check out their iphone apps, too)
- Rent a car
- Careful! This is expensive, and parking can be even more expensive!
- If there’s a resident at the program who came from your med school, ask them for advice in terms of how to make a good impression during your time at their program!
- Be around: Go to the “extra” events – nighttime journal club, morning research meetings, etc. Come early for rounds, even if your team/attending doesn’t have any patients in house.
- Meet with the program director.
- Ask for a letter of recommendation (especially if the faculty member you’re working with is well-known, and other programs would recognize the name!).
I hope this helps!