Darnell Robin, MSIII, UConn School of Medicine
As I approach the end of my third year, I look back on all of my experiences. Some challenged me to strive to do better and others showed me the importance of being a good clinician. Overall, I enjoyed third year, but I was met with significant challenges. Nevertheless, I emerged wiser and more determined to pursue a career in the field of medicine.
Here are a few tips that helped to get me through.
Advocate for yourself.
During your third year, you are often the bottom of the totem pole. You often get overlooked or even forgotten about. Sometimes it may feel as if no one cares if you are there or not. You have to remember that your rotations are a learning experience and you are paying for this experience. Never be afraid to speak up if you feel like you are not learning.
Take care of yourself.
The field of medicine often teaches us to take care of everyone except ourselves. On my Family Medicine rotation, I was counseling a patient on diet, exercise, proper sleep, and stress management. At the end of the appointment, I felt like a hypocrite because I could not remember the last time I had done any of those things. Through my rotations, I learned that it is okay to take care of myself and take a break occasionally. When I did that, my mind was clearer when I needed to study and I felt better overall.
Accept feedback graciously.
One of the biggest things I learned during third year was that there is always room to improve. As medical students, we often put a lot of effort into preparing for each rotation and try to perform our best. Even with our best efforts, we might receive feedback that may not necessarily always praise our efforts, but more so highlights our flaws. In these experiences, I learned to not only take the feedback, but to also ask how I can improve on those things moving forward. Through this, my end-of-the rotation feedback was always positive.
Lean on your social support.
Some days will be extremely hard. You may lose your first patient, make a big mistake, or simply just have a bad day. This is perfectly normal. We are humans and our feelings get hurt. During these times, it is often important to remember to reach out to those who love you and care about you. A quick chat or FaceTime with family or friends made all of the difference after a tough day.
Learning is key.
You may not get Honors in every rotation or even qualify for AOA, but what is most important is what you learn from each experience. As I progressed through my rotations, I started to adopt the philosophy that I was more concerned with what type of physician I would become as opposed to how I would do on the rotation. When I focused on learning rather than a grade, doing well on a rotation came more naturally.
Lastly, have fun!
Third year is one of the only years you get to play being a doctor and have none of the responsibility. Of course, you may not enjoy rounding for five hours discussing the differential diagnosis for your patient’s hypokalemia, but this is last time that you may ever deliver a baby, scrub in on a Whipple procedure, or even counsel a patient on diabetes management. So enjoy it and enjoy the experience. Time always moves faster when you are having fun.