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Tips for Doing Well in the Family Medicine Rotation

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am
Here are my tips for doing well in Family Medicine.

1) Be enthusiastic. This is good advice for every rotation actually, but especially in the outpatient clinic. You might feel like you have no intention of going into family medicine (which I don't), but that doesn't mean you can't learn something from the experience or that it isn't important.

2) Read about your patients. Even though your contacts with most of the patients will be short-term (just one visit) because the rotation is so short, you should still read up on the patients and learn more about their diseases. Discuss what you read with your preceptors.

3) Be on time. This should be an obvious thing, so don't be "that student". You'll be fine if you always keep in mind that it is ok for you to wait half an hour for the attending to show up, but the opposite is not true! ;-)

4) Keep up with your logs. You should write your H & Ps and fill out your logs every day (every half day if possible). Yeah, it sucks spending your lunch hour writing logs and H & Ps. But you see so many patients in the family medicine clinic (I'd usually see about 8 per day on average) that there is just no possible way that you will remember what you saw or did if you don't write the notes as quickly as possible. Plus, if you get all of the notes done while you're in clinic, you won't have to write them at home.

5) Read a family medicine book. The book that was suggested for this rotation wasn't very helpful, in my opinion. It's too long to possibly get through during a three week rotation. Get Case Files: Family Medicine instead and read it cover to cover. That's definitely doable in three weeks.

6) Submit EVERY log for assessment. Some preceptors won't write you an eval. If you submit every log, you will have no problem getting enough evals for the rotation. Just be sure to batch them each half day so that the preceptor isn't getting like four different eval requests per day.

7) Any time a preceptor asks, "Hey, would you like to do....?" always say yes. Stay the extra half hour, do the extra Pap smear, interview the extra patient. The more interest you show in learning, the more willing the preceptor will be to teach you something interesting.

8) Be nice to the nurses and MAs. Yes, they have been in medicine way longer than you have. Yes, they do know more about clinical stuff than you do. Yes, they will talk about you behind your back if you're an arrogant idiot. I was hearing stories about previous med students who are long done with their residencies by now....assuming that they made it through the rest of their third years!

9) Work your way into the rooms one baby step at a time. Sometimes you may run into patients who don't want to see a med student. What you should do is ask them if you can just talk to them for a couple of minutes to get their meds or find out why they came in today. You can even point out that it will speed things up since you can put their info into the computer for the doctor. Once they have been talking to you for a while and you have had a chance to build up some rapport, you can then ask them to let you listen to their heart and lungs. While they're on the exam table, you can throw in an HEENT exam or an abdominal exam if appropriate. This strategy worked for me every single time. I never had a patient refuse to let me talk to them "just for a couple of minutes," and I never walked out of the room without doing a focused physical exam. The key is that you need to project an attitude of confidence and humility at the same time.

10) Even if you hate family medicine, look at the bright side. It's only a few weeks, and there are no weekends or calls. You're totally going to miss this rotation once you start slaving away 80 hours per week on one of the inpatient services!
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