Clinical rotations are an integral part of becoming a doctor. They provide students with a chance to gain experience and observe what happens during real medical procedures. 

But clinical rotations can also be challenging, especially if you’ve never had any hands-on experience with patients before. 

In this article, I’ll share some tips that have helped me navigate my own clinical rotations and become more confident in my skills as I progress toward graduation.

1. Know what you’re getting into.

When you’re entering a new rotation, it’s important to know what to expect. This can be especially true for clinical rotations because there are so many factors that can affect your experience.

Before starting a rotation, ensure you understand the kind of work environment the clinic or hospital created for medical students. 

Is it collaborative? Competitive? Are there opportunities for them to learn independently or with other students? Do they have mentors who can help guide them through their studies and provide feedback on their progress throughout the rotation period (or even after)?

What resources are available at this site that will assist with your education and training? Is there access to patient charts or medical records, electronic health records, opportunities for shadowing physicians, and educational seminars?

2. Get organized.

Make sure you are organized before you start, and try to keep up with your organization throughout the rotation.

Use a notebook or planner to keep track of important information, such as patient charts, meeting times and locations, phone numbers, and any other relevant details that may be useful during your rotation.

If possible, get an app that will help keep track of your schedule so it’s easy for everyone involved in the process–you included–to access and update when necessary.

Some good apps are listed in an article written by Lily in Medicine

3. Stay on top of the workload.

As you begin to immerse yourself in clinical rotations, it’s important to stay on top of the workload. This can be challenging with so much new material coming at you and so many distractions around every corner.

We’ve already highlighted the benefits of using a planner or app. This is an easy way to organize your days and weeks ahead while also giving yourself reminders about upcoming deadlines so they don’t sneak up on you at the last minute! 

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s not written down somewhere, then it doesn’t exist (or at least not as far as your brain is concerned). So make sure that everything gets put into writing.

Make sure you have whatever tools are needed for success before starting any task or project.

Have all necessary supplies ready beforehand, like pens, pencils, and a notepad, as well as know where things like computers or printers are located within each building where we work during rotations.

4. Set up a system for communicating with your preceptors.

Using a website is an easy way to keep your preceptors informed about what you are doing and how well you are doing it. 

It also makes it easy for them to provide feedback on your performance, which can be helpful in assessing what areas need improvement and how best to address those shortcomings.

You can also create a spreadsheet and update it regularly with information about the patients you are seeing, including their chief complaints, test results, and diagnoses.

This will allow your preceptor(s) to quickly see where there may be gaps in knowledge or skills so that they can provide guidance accordingly.

Use email if possible. It’s often more successful than phone calls or text messages but still allows for asynchronous communication between parties involved in clinical rotations.

5. Know when to say “no.”

Knowing when to say “no” is one of the most important skills for a medical student to master. You will be asked for help from all angles, and it can feel like a burden if you are too generous with your time. 

In addition, it’s important for students to avoid burning out during clinical rotations because the pressure can be intense at times, and nothing will make you want to quit medical school faster than feeling burned out.


If you’re facing clinical rotations, we hope this article has given you some insight into what to expect and how to prepare. 

We know that it can be a daunting experience, but with the right mindset and some planning ahead of time, we believe that anyone can succeed in their clinicals! 

One day, it will all be over, and you can enjoy the rewards of your hard work, such as a great salary. If you are training for a specialty, you can expect to earn even more

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