A Couple Days in the Life

September 24, 2012

Due to increasing requests for what a clinicals schedule is like, I will take you through a normal couple days.  BUT before we get started, a few simple rules:

1) EVERY ROTATION is DIFFERENT!  I am lucky in that I am in a not-so-arduous rotation right now but other rotations, including other family medicine electives with different preceptors, can be much more hectic and demanding.

2) I am a night owl and keep odd hours

3) I do not currently have a car in Chicago, so much of my day is planned around when busses are least crowded and most accessible.

Mandatory clinic days for me during this rotation:

Monday 10:00, Wednesday 12:00, Friday 12:00, +/- Saturday 10:00

Sooo–here’s Monday-Tuesday:

08:00-09:00–Wake up, listen to music, brush teeth, wash face, put in contacts, curl hair, get dressed, put on makeup, have breakfast, pack bag.

09:00-09:40–Walk to busstop/Ride bus/Walk to MUA Rotation buddy’s apartment

09:30-09:50–Ride to hospital with MUA rotation friend in her car

10:00-~13:00–See patients in clinic/Present patients/Get grilled by doc

~13:00-14:00–Lunch with MUA rotation friend

14:00-16:00–Get dropped off at apartment then Nap.  Getting grilled is emotionally exhausting and I’m usually short on sleep.

17:00-21:00–Read/research topics covered in clinic/prepare presentations

21:00-22:00–Talk to friends/family on Skype


00:00-00:30–Cool down, stretch, finish drinking water so that 2L daily requirement met

00:30-01:30–Shower, dry hair, PJs, brush teeth, contacts out

01:30-02:30–Internet TV/fall asleep


10:00–10:15–Wake up, brush teeth, change into gym clothes


12:00-13:00–Shower, dry hair, put in contacts

13:00-13:30–Cook/eat lunch

13:30-14:00–Curl hair, put on make-up, put on casual clothes

14:00-17:00–Adventuring (faraway chores: Grocery/Post office/Target, etc.)

17:00-21:00–Read textbook

21:00-22:00–Skype friends/family

22:00-00:00–Laundry/Ironing, finish 2L daily water requirement

00:00-02:00–Internet TV/fall asleep

I know, it’s pretty cushy and a hell of a lot less stressful than basic sciences BUT you have to keep in mind, you have NO LECTURES to prepare you for Step 2 so I should probably be studying more than I am right now for those exams, it’s just that I haven’t done any major cores yet so I’m not so familiar with the material.  I still have probably another week or so worth of reading for Family Medicine to finish both of my textbooks, after which I will probably start in on the books for my next rotation (to get ahead), Psych.  Come to think of it, if you’re not strong with your basic sciences material, you’ll want to study more so that your preceptor doesn’t start making fun of you and giving you more scut work when you can’t answer their random questions at the drop of a hat.  I’m lucky in that I retained most of what I learned throughout basic sciences and know basics about many different subjects, but understand that your preceptor physician can and will quiz you on anything/everything he/she wants to–for example–on Friday in clinic, we were quizzed on how you would treat UTI, symptoms of UTI, differentiating UTI from STI, trade names and clinical names of antibiotics, which antibiotics you would give to a pregnant woman, symptoms of STI’s, differences in discharge between STI’s, how to treat Strep, how to treat Otitis Media, different infections for which you would prescribe azithromycin, how to write prescriptions, the age guidelines on HPV vaccines, rules for prescribing drugs to partners infected with STI’s, dosage guidelines in treating Chlamydia vs. Chlamydia + Gonorrhea, antibiotic resistance, why you would use levofloxacin over ciprofloxacin, what drugs to give patients with Sulfa allergies, etc.  Usually if you don’t know something, someone else in the group can discuss it or answer the question, but I hear in other rotations, if there is a foreign concept or if you’ve forgotten something from basic sciences, you have to research it and present it to the other students on a subsequent day.

To the kids in basic sciences, yes–it’s something to look forward to BUT don’t be heartbroken if you start out in a tough core or even a busy elective rotation that doesn’t have this schedule and doesn’t give you time off and time to study.  I can tell you the other kids doing family medicine elective rotation here who have the other attending routinely pull 12-14 hr. days, EVERYday with only weekends off.  Another thing to remember is that when you’re in a core rotation, you have required weekly assignments from the school as well as a patient log to maintain.  If you’re worried about workload when you’re just starting out, it might not be a bad idea to request starting out in an elective until you get your feet wet in the clinicals world as it is so different from the didactics of basic sciences.

Also different from basic sciences is that there is more planning required during these rotations, or at least it seems that way to me.  This is the first job for which I’ve been required to dress up on a regular basis–that means doing laundry at least every week and then ironing/steaming clothes so that they look presentable.  The days of being able to go 3 weeks without doing laundry and then just washing cottons and schlapping them up on the line to dry outside are gone.  Also, trips out must be planned.  I try to avoid going out on clinic days if I’ll be riding the bus because clinic is tiring and you must have your wits about you on the bus.  No cell phone out, no opening purse so you have to have your directions mapped out in your head, know exactly which busses you’re taking and which stops you’re supposed to get off at, and above all, you MUST BE BACK BEFORE SUNSET.  Then the actual process of getting where you need to go, depending how far away can take 1.5-2 hours worth of traveling–waiting on busses, walking, riding busses.  Also you must plan what you want to purchase and estimate if you’ll be able to carry it back with you on the bus without inconveniencing anyone or making yourself a larger target to be robbed.  Again, not like an hour’s trip to Gingerland grocery store where you just hop in your car and go.

2 Responses to “A Couple Days in the Life”

  1. Jay said

    Hey, I must thank you for the great, great service you’re doing for those interested in pursuing a medical career. I realize you’re immensely busy, but could I email you a few questions I have about your experience with MUA as well as rotations, in general? Once again, thanks so much for your great writing — I’ve read nearly all of your posts!

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