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Every Rotation is an Interview

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The time for your clinical rotations has come.  You can finally get out of the classroom and put your knowledge and skills to use.  You will have a taste of what it might be like to start working as a physician assistant.  It is exciting, but, your first day is just as nerve wrecking as your first day of PA school.  The difference here is that you will have many first days.

It is understood that you will be nervous.  Everyone knows your knowledge and your ability to problem solve is limited at this point.  With that said, your ability to try is not limited.

You need to treat each rotation as if you were constantly being interviewed.  What you lack in skill set, you need to make up in hustle.  You need to stay busy and find things to do.  Always ask how you can help.  If you help the residents, they will help you.  If you can make their life as easy as possible while you are there, it will make them look better, and in turn they will write you an awesome end of rotation evaluation.

Make sure to not only help the residents, but the staff as well.  The nurses will share invaluable knowledge and will hook you up with procedures.  Your efforts will not go unnoticed!

One of the things that trips up students the most, is dealing with negative feedback.  You will inevitably run into an attending or resident you do not connect with.  Unfortunately, there is a hierarchy when it comes to medicine.  You have the attending who will pimp the resident; then you have the resident who will pimp the students.  The “abuse” gets passed down the food chain, and guess what?  You are at the bottom.  You will find, however, that now a days, most are moving away from this model; but, be aware that it is still very much present.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not easy.

I can tell you there was a time while in my ortho rotation where I was unable to keep my composure.  I had to work with a PA who was doing his ortho residency.  He was formerly in the army, and stuck on to that old hierarchy.

He believed in putting students through hell, because it was the way he was taught.  Unfortunately, I didn’t handle it so well, and ended up talking back.  This was the wrong thing to do and it should never be done, regardless of how you are being treated.  If in fact you feel as if you are being abused, then you take it up with your school faculty.

So, you might be wondering what happened with my little scenario.  Well, I got lucky.  I had a good rapport with both the residents and the attending, so they laughed it off, and told me not to worry.  This will not be the norm, so don’t let me lead by example on this one lol.

The next thing is to always be honest when being “pimped”.  If you don’t know an answer, say you don’t know, but will look it up and get back to them later.  Then, make sure you actually do it.  Do not think just because you are always studying that you will know everything.  The residents or attendings will continue to ask and pimp you until you are stumped.  Play the game and don’t get flustered.

Students are always asking how to land a job after school.  Well, ideally, you want to land the job before you graduate.  As soon as you step into the hospital, put your best foot forward.  Every interaction, every procedure, and every action is being watched and documented.  If you go above and beyond your duties, why would they not want to hire you?

If you show that you can be a valuable part of the team, they would be crazy not to extend a job your way.  You are in a unique position, where you have one month to show off your character and skills, as opposed to the 15 minutes every other applicant gets.  So, take advantage of this, and use it to your advantage.  Make sure you treat every rotation like an interview.

Andrew