Medical School Rotations: Emergency Medicine Clerkship

15 August 2015

*Disclaimer: My experience on every rotation is very site-specific. It may not necessarily apply to your clerkships. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. IM, neuro and Emed will be shorter as I've done them on a delayed schedule, and forgotten a lot of my experiences.
What I liked:
Getting to see a large variety of cases. Since I was at a hospital that served mostly the uninsured, the people that walked in had very crazy pathologies! 
A team of residents that loved teaching. I've never seen so many people take time out of their shift to personally review important info with little ol' me (MI protocols, LOC differentials, etc). I was very lucky to work at one of the best EMED departments in the USA.
Depending on the attending, we were given a TON of responsibility or minimal. I mostly liked the former, where I got to see patients start to finish, put in orders, call the inpatient unit for transfers, or call specialists for consult, discharge, etc. 
Learning how to manage patients on every team (green/red/blue).
Getting to close all the lacerations on green team - seriously you guys, that was my jam. The doctors would just leave me in there, and I'd chat away with the patient whilst making sure everything was sutured perfectly. I even got it mentioned on my final evals. Lac-girl to the rescue!
Learning how to interview inmates with several officers in the room; that was an experience! It seemed to really skew what the patient would say, or he would be incredibly uncomfortable throughout the interaction.
The excited atmosphere in the ED during the final Blackhawks game when they won the Stanley Cup! There were whoops of cheer, lots of yelling, and then a huge sigh of relief that our shift ended right before the onslaught of drunkies. 

I had "the moment" of third year during this rotation: I took care of a patient for a rule-out ectopic pregnancy. She had a prior history, and came in with a + pregnancy test and abdominal pains. Her and her fiancee were very anxious and frightened, plus they REALLY wanted to have a baby. After several hours, imaging showed no ectopic & a viable intrauterine pregnancy. Guess who got to break the good news!? ME, MEEEEEEEE!! We jumped and cried and high-fived and I was put into a huge hugging circle, and it was the best day of medical school ever. I will never forget this day 'til I die!

What I didn't like:
Having a different attending every shift, and not knowing who he/she was until I arrived. I was perpetually nervous because I wasn't sure what this new attending liked, and how they coped under stress. I definitely prefer having the same set of doctors every day.
Shift work - I'm not very good at adjusting my schedule. However, it was great practice for intern year and residency when I'll have to do night float, 24 or 36hr shifts, etc. 
Not being able to continue patient care and rapport once they were discharged.
I didn't get to see any big trauma cases, because they were in a separate department. I definitely wanted to know how a gunshot wound was treated based on extent of damage.

How I studied for the clerkship:
EMED podcasts: EM Basic  
Resident teachings
OnlineMedEd videos

How I studied for the shelf exam:
EMED pretest x 2
UWORLD surgery - half of the questions.

     Hope that was helpful! Comment below with extra tips!

image source: uiowa


  1. Love this post! I love how you shared about "the moment" you had. I am a first year med student really interested in emergency medicine so I really enjoyed reading about your experience.

    1. Great to hear Mary! Good luck with your med school studies! Make sure you document your memories along the way. It's something I wish I had done more, and am making a goal to do on a weekly basis. Medicine provides you with such a wonderful opportunity to truly impact people's lives.


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