No matter the profession, mistakes are bound to happen. We all make them. However, as a professional, you must try your hardest to avoid them. Even during clinical rotations for medical students, there are common mistakes you can avoid altogether.

People look up to you because they expect you to be flawless. During your training as a medical student, there are occasions when mistakes inevitably happen. Mishaps may happen during your first few years of study. But many common mistakes occur during your clinical years.

When these issues come up, don’t be afraid to consult a mentor or anyone else in your training hierarchy on how to handle the situation. After all, they were all in your shoes at one point. In the meantime, learn how to prepare for clinical rotations and avoid common mistakes.

10 Mistakes Med Students Make During Clinical Rotations - Part 1

Air Force Doctors and Med Students During Clinical Rotations. Image Source: Air Force Medicine

10 Common Mistakes Medical Students Make During Clinical Rotations – Part 1

Wondering how to succeed in clinical rotations? Use these top 10 common mistakes to help you prepare for your rotations. These are tips for clinical success:

1. Being Argumentative

Arguing with a nurse, patient, attending physician or even fellow resident can be one of the biggest mistakes made during clinical rotations for medical students. Of course, we all have differences in opinion. But there are better ways to express your opinion without arguing.

Physicians, nurses and professors that you come across in your training may work with you in the future as colleagues. They will typically have more clinical experience than you do. You need to learn from other medical professionals practicing in their fields.

Physical therapists, social workers and nurses, for example, all have proficiency and expertise in their specialties. Try to learn from each of them, since having a broader scope of knowledge will ultimately make you a better doctor in the future.

Having any type of argument with a patient is downright wrong. If you disagree with anything he or she says, consider politely excusing yourself and seek a superior or professional to help you with the situation.

Ultimately, it’s the well-being of your patients that led you to your chosen career path. Therefore, it’s important to give them the respect they deserve when making decisions with them.

Keep Your Cool During Your Rotations

Keep Your Cool During Your Rotations. Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

2. Hiding an Error During Clinical Rotations

During clinical rotations for medical students, no professional expects you to know everything. However, when you make a mistake in patient care, it can lead to greater repercussions than making a mistake in an office job.

A patient’s welfare can be compromised if you do something wrong. If you feel like you want to cover up a mistake you made, it’s important not to take that route.

Instead, talk to and get guidance from superiors. And seek out their advice on what to do to rectify your mistake. Your patient’s life always comes first after all.

3. Not Verbally Reporting Physical Findings

Make sure to alert residents or attendings about critical physical findings on a patient you care for, instead of simply jotting it down on the chart. These findings may be vital to the patient’s immediate care needs.

The most vital tip on how to succeed in clinical rotations is to avoid making mistakes in patient care. A hastily written patient progress note which glosses over physical exam discoveries will compromise a patient’s quality of care.

Always make sure to maintain a consistent, ethical code during your medical school training and clinical rotations. Put what’s best for your patient’s medical care first and foremost.

Be sure to report important findings verbally to those in charge of the patient's case.

Be sure to report important findings verbally to those in charge of the patient’s case. Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

4. Bullying Colleagues

Bullying, which is a form of berating, may happen to you during clinical rotations. It’s the act of being bossed around and disrespected by older classmates and colleagues in the hospital hierarchy.

For some reason, this callous practice is common in medical school. But it’s obviously not an effective way of working as a team to provide quality patient care. So, make sure you don’t fall prey to using this practice.

Be respectful to other medical students, as well as your attendings and residents alike. It might not sound fun. But when you are a medical student, you are at the bottom of the food chain.

There is a hierarchy in medicine, with medical directors and department heads leading the packs. Next in line are the attending physicians, followed by chief residents and then residents. This leaves you, the medical student, as last in the pecking order, with the least amount of respect and power.

Accepting that your opinion may not always be valued because you are just a med school student makes this an easier pill to swallow. Do not take it personally. Simply work toward changing things for the better once you make it higher and higher up the pecking order.

5. Bringing Too Much Attention to Yourself

Remember this during your medical school training: you do not want to be invisible, but you also do not want to stick out like a sore thumb for the wrong reasons. Take heed of these words to succeed in clinical rotations.

Always report for duty on time and dress appropriately. For example, do not wear jeans or sandals. Never dress too provocatively either. You want to dress comfortably but professionally for your rotations.

Make sure you arrive to your rotation prepared and ready to get to work. Listen closely and be attentive. Don’t attract negative attention to yourself by being that one med student no one likes to see coming.

This is a 2-part series.

Click the link below to read Part 2.

Read Part 2 of Common Clinical Rotations Mistakes