Overview of Clinical Year
Prior to clinical year starting we completed a one week Medical Spanish submersion course. Emily may have cried daily because she didn’t know a lick of Spanish prior to starting besides queso and cervesa, however she did get the most improved award at the end of the week! Katie stayed a lot more positive then Emily did and by the end of the week we both could complete a complete history and physical exam in Spanish! (Don’t ask if we remember any of it..)
Also prior to starting clinical year we also became certified in BLS, ACLS, and PALS and were fitted for TB masks.
Katie’s top 3 favorite rotations: Orthopedic Surgery elective, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery
Order of rotations: Family Medicine, Psychiatry, OBGYN, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery Elective, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics.
Emily’s top 3 favorite rotations: Psychiatry, Pediatric Surgery, Orthopedic Elective in Oncology
Order of rotations: Psychiatry, Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Pediatric Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery Elective, Family Medicine
For the most part, Barry University set up our rotations for us. We were allowed to give our preferences for two of them. Katie chose to do her Emergency Medicine Rotation in Key West, FL and set up an elective Orthopedic Surgery rotation. Emily chose to do her General Surgery rotation in Pediatric Surgery and set up an Orthopedic Oncology elective rotation.
Although we will give you our suggestions for resources that are helpful for each rotation individually, for every rotation we both used “Trust me I’m a PA’s” website for printouts, cheat sheets, references, EOR topic lits etc. Check it out here:
During each rotation we had to complete one SOAP Note, a cultural reflection paper, keep a log of all of the patients we evaluated and patients we treated on a website called Typhon, and complete several hundred PA EASY and other board review questions. For three days at the end of each rotation we would come back to the classroom and reunite with our colleagues. These days consisted of a written exam on our rotation specialty (EOR exam), a practical patient and written H&P exam (EOR CSE), and housekeeping about what was next on the horizon. As the rotations went on, we became less and less nauseous about all of these exams!
EOR Exams – For most of our end of rotation exams someone in our class had made a study guide that we all shared (teamwork makes the dream work). We were given an EOR topic list of diseases to focus our attention on. At first, the exam we took was created by our PA program until about ½ way through clinical year when we started to use the accredited AAPA EOR exams. These were much harder, but much more practical for boards prep.
EOR CSE (clinical skills exam)– At the end of every rotation we were checked off on performing an H&P (oral and written) on a classmate while a professor observed and graded us. When we were finished with the physical exam, we were required to write an H&P based on our PE and potential A/P. We went through all of the specialties, ex. Cardiology, Pulmonology, GI, OBGYN, Psychiatry, Hematology etc. These exams were more about the history taking and physical exam more than getting the correct diagnosis. If you got the correct diagnosis it was a bonus but was only 1 or 2 points. As the year went on we became more and more comfortable with these mainly due to the experience we were gaining at each clinical rotation.
Our biggest advice for clinical year is to enjoy the ride. Some rotations will be more challenging than others, whereas some will be more interesting than others. Give each rotation the same attention regardless of your interest in that field. You have to know all the topics to pass boards so you might as well make the most out of the opportunities at each site you are assigned to learn via real life experience.
- Prep before starting the rotation, know pertinent facts and have reference sheets for common conditions, medications, lab values, etc.
- Contact your preceptor and know where to be and when prior to your first day.
- Do a test drive if that is reasonable.
- Talk to students who have rotated there to get an idea of what to expect but don’t always expect your experience to be the same as theirs.
- Go into each rotation with an open mind and be eager to jump in an assist and constantly ask questions.
- Arrive before your preceptor and stay later (unless they force you to go home which does happen from time to time).
- Bring snacks for your white coat and always have a clean pair of clothes or scrubs just in case.
- Wear comfortable shoes, this is not about fashion, it’s about learning.
- Most importantly, have fun. You won’t ever have this opportunity to rotate and change what you’re doing every 6 weeks.
- See each patient you encounter as a learning opportunity and a chance to better yourself diagnostic skills.
- Lastly, take deep breaths, be thankful, remember you are a brilliant person who was selected for PA school above thousands of applicants because someone believed in your potential, now go out and prove it!
We want to know what your favorite rotation is/was?