Choosing an Elective Rotation.

So I am coming up on an exciting midpoint in my PA schooling… the transition from 1st to 2nd year! This means a switch from the didactic curriculum to the clinical – exciting stuff! At Northeastern we have nine 5-week rotations. Eight are required areas (Family Med, Pediatrics, Ambulatory, OB/GYN, Surgery, Psychiatry, Emergency Med, Inpatient Med) and the 9th is elective – meaning that you can pick which area you would like it to be in. For most soon-to-be 2nd years this is a tough decision because there are so many choices! Below are some things to consider when choosing your elective rotation:

Consider doing something that you may not have the opportunity to do again.
Think about international rotations. Many programs offer (or are at least willing to approve if you do the leg work) international rotations.
PROs: you are able to see the world, practice medicine without technology such as CT scanners and MRI machines so you will improve your hands-on clinical diagnosing skills, interesting pathology, and a chance to learn more about another culture
CONs: cost (most of the time your will responsible for your flight, program costs, additional medical insurance, and food), you will need to plan ahead – so that you have time to get immunizations, etc

Consider using it as a job interview.
Try to use it as a 5-week job interview. Five weeks is a good amount of time not only for them to see what you are capable, but also for you to see if that is a place that you could imagine yourself working. Remember – you are interviewing them too.
Consider using it to improve your comfort level.

Feel a little shaky in cardiology? Pulm? Onc? A rotation in that specialty will help you gain a better understanding of the material and thus increase your comfort level. Even if you plan on going into Primary Care – a better comfort level with cardio or pulm will be invaluable.

Consider using it to just try something new/different.

Know for a fact you will be working in pediatrics or orthopedics for the rest of your life? Maybe you want to take your elective rotation opportunity to work in something totally different like mental health or geriatric medicine just because you can.

Consider using it to just gain more experience.
Some of the current second years opted for a 2nd emergency or primary care rotation even though they will be entering a subspecialty after graduation just because of the diversity and volume of patients. More patients = more experience. As they said, “You can’t go wrong with more emergency care experience.” I agree.
I am leaning toward an elective in Neurosurgery or a 2nd Emergency Med rotation. More rotation suggestions once I start in Sept. Gotta make it through the summer semester first!

1 comment:

  1. What rotation did you end up picking? I am halfway through my clinical year and I am debating this very question. I know another 6 weeks in the ED would be great, but like you I am interested in a Neurosurgery rotation. How did you end up making your decision?