Clinical Rotations / Medical School

The Day To Day Schedule of a Third Year

An incoming first year medical student asked me, “what is the day to day schedule like in medical school?” To begin with, I want to differentiate the two halves of your medical school education. The first half is spent in the classroom and the second half is spent in clinical rotations. In this post I will be discussing the day to day schedule during your clinical years, specifically your third year (because fourth year is basically like senior year of college).  Now before you scroll down to see the day to day hourly schedule of a third year medical student I have a few caveats about your third year clinical rotations to reveal.

Everyone’s experience is different. 

During the first two years of medical school, regardless of what school you attend, everyone basically learns the same stuff. The information that you are eventually are tested on during your United States Licensing Exams (USMLE) is standardized regardless if you went to an Ivy League school or a Caribbean one like me. So the first two years of didactic lectures are pretty similar in every medical school. This standardized experience of your first two years of medical school is grossly different compared the second half of your schooling. You can be from the same school and be in the same rotation and have completely different experiences during your rotations, and there’s a number of reasons why. You works with different residents, different fellows, and different attending physicians and each one of them will share with you something unique. Not to mention that you end up seeing entirely different pateints. There is simply no way for everyone to have the same experience. Ultimately, although you might have the same schedule as your colleagues, your experience can be considerably different.

Each respective rotation is different

My third year core rotations consisted of the following: 6 weeks of pediatrics, OB/GYN, psychiatry, and family medicine, and 12 weeks of internal medicine and surgery and each rotation’s schedule was completely unique. Just think about how different the day to day life of a surgeon is compared to a psychiatrist. The same is true when it comes to your schedule. More so, each hospital’s respective rotation experience can vary widely between the hours you work, number of patients you see, balance between autonomy and supervision, and how much the residents and attending physicians are willing to teach. So take the following daily schedule with a grain of salt because it is mainly applicable to my internal medicine rotation that I completed in Brooklyn, New York.

Here’s my daily internal medicine schedule

  • 7:00am. Handoff from the night team. Pick up a new patient.
  • 7:00-9:00. See patient(s). Write note. Talk to the cute nurse. Look up how to treat my patient. Talk to my patient’s actual nurse. Present and discuss my patient with my resident. Prepare presentation for rounds.
  • 9:00-10:30. Round with my team. Present my patient. Discuss assessment and plan with the attending. Make updates to my patient’s treatment plan.
  • 10:30-10:35. Find that piece of paper that you wrote everything down on and then subseqently lost.
  • 10:35-10:40. Find your team that you lost while you were trying to find the piece of paper that you just found.
  • 10:40-11:30. Play it cool. They wouldn’t have noticed if you left altogether. Update my patient’s note. Call consults and check if lab-work results are back and interpret them if you can.
  • 11:15-12:00. Lunch. Attempt to resist drinking second cup of coffee.
  • 12:00-1:00. Lecture of some sort.
  • 1:00-1:15. Go get that second cup of coffee. Remind myself to stop trying to stop drinking coffee.
  • 1:15-4:00. Go say hello to my patient. Make sure labwork, radiology, and procedures were ordered. Call people to make sure it gets done. Eventually ask my resident, ‘if there is anything else I can help with’ and hope that they don’t need something faxed. God I hate fax machines. Seriously, why do they still exist?? I think its punishment for all the years of attitude I gave my parents when I wouldn’t help them find the ‘TV/VIDEO button’. Side note, when are TV/VIDEO buttons going to be a thing of the past?
  • 3:00-3:05. Complain about my research project.
  • 3:05-3:30. Work on my research project.
  • 3:30-4:00. Find someone to procrastinate with. Find someone to annoy if they won’t procrastinate with you.
  • 4:00-6:00. UWorld.
  • 6:00-7:30. Home, relax, gym, shower, eat.
  • 7:30-8:30. Review UWorld or watch Kaplan videos (Thank you Conrad Fischer and Online MedEd)
  • 8:30midnight. Beer, Netflix, Xbox, read something non-medical, and lament over how little I got done today. Repeat tomorrow.
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