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My First Day of Clinical Rotations

NewkendraKendra Campbell -- Today was my first day of rotating in a hospital as a medical student. I was assigned to internal medicine, and basically followed the attending physician and intern around the wards with two other med students. This is actually supposed to be a transition semester. I’m finished with the basic sciences, but don’t know enough about the clinical world to begin my official rotations, so I have 12 weeks to learn the ropes.

The hospital where I’m rotating is a pretty far cry from the hospitals that I’m used to working at in the States. The halls have no walls, since there is no air conditioning. Many of the beds and rooms are quite dilapidated. There is no MRI machine or even “nurse call” buttons. However, the hospital actually runs surprisingly well. The hierarchy of nurses and doctors is pretty similar, and many of the protocols are almost identical.

Since today was my first day, I had absolutely no idea what to do. Combine that with the fact that I was in a different country, with different rules, and you have one very confused Kendra. I spent a good 30% of the day just standing around with a confused look on my face, smiling at all the doctors, nurses, and patients as they walked by. A few patients approached me with questions, and of course I had no idea of the answer, so I had to redirect them to someone who would.

Eventually, I learned where to find the charts and started familiarizing myself with the various colors that are used for lab work, doctors’ orders, prescriptions, etc. I read through a few patients’ charts, and looked up the various drug names that I didn’t know.

As we rounded with the attending physician, she began to drill us on diseases, meds and tests. Because I have not picked up a medical book in over a month, I thought that I had most likely lost everything that I had learned. But I soon realized that I was able to answer most of her questions.

Later on, I observed the intern do a urinary catheterization on a patient who was somewhat demented and uncooperative. I could tell that she was having a hard time, so I instinctively grabbed a pair of gloves and helped hold the patient still and tried to calm him down. I could tell that she was pleased to see me jump up and help, without her having to ask, and afterwards I was glad that I hadn’t just stood there with a glazed look on my face.

So, I would say that although I felt pretty silly standing around most of the day, not really knowing what to do, I actually had an amazing day. I still feel pretty incompetent, and know that I have a lot to learn. But the desire to learn is burning inside me, and I think that’s probably the most important thing right now.

January 22, 2008 in Kendra Campbell | Permalink


As a first day i think you did quite well kendra! I dont know about you but this mustve felt as one of medicine's milestones!
I still have to wait till next semester to actually start rotations so feel free to throw in sum tips ^_^


Posted by: Zainab | Jan 22, 2008 1:51:53 PM

GooodJoooooB! I am glad you learned some new drug names...ever find out what veta k 1 is????

Posted by: | Jan 27, 2008 3:29:30 PM

realy good job,here in india we get a chance to see patients in our 2nd year only.....
i can understand what kind of excitement is there when u see what u have read in books....

Posted by: vikas | Jan 30, 2008 9:13:34 AM

Im a third year med student. My first day revolved being thrown into a clinic where i was supposed to know what im supposed to be doing. Basically history taking, physical examination and coming up with differentials. Presenting my first patient to my consultant was scary.
I think your first day went pretty well.

Posted by: Faryal | Jan 30, 2008 11:11:03 AM

If anybody wants tips, here are a few: Always carry a sthehoscope, a torch, a hammer to check reflexes, a notebook, a pen :p, a pocketbook for quick reference. Before your first clinical rotation go through all the physical examinations you could be asked to perform or know about. You MUST know what a general physical examination includes. You must know which lymph nodes to palpate. Use the acronym JACCOL...jaundice, anemia, clubbing, cyanosis, oedema, lymph nodes.
There are a countless other things as well. In short medical students are the bottom of the food chain. Be prepared to die :D

Posted by: Faryal | Jan 30, 2008 11:17:33 AM

First day??? i remember that!! I had to wake up at 5 am and I had to be at the hospital at 7 am!!!
Now, i am on my sixth year from 7 (i am studying at San Marcos University!!! - Lima, Peru) and my memories to this day are amazing!!!: doctors, patients... and med students... next year i am going to start my internee and guess that i hope will feel the same emotion as my first day in the clinical rotation!!!

Good luck!!!

Posted by: Marina | Jan 30, 2008 7:34:27 PM

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