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10 Tips for Ross Clinical Students

ADVICE: 10 Tips for Ross Clinical Students

Current and future clinical students may want to take heed of the advice below by Vijay Rajput, MD, Ross professor and chair of Medicine and associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs, and fourth-year Ross student Kyle Waisanen.

  1. Create a blueprint. Be proactive and think one step ahead for all clinical clerkship and elective assignments. Seek advice from a clinical advisor; guidance from an Office of Student Professional Development (OSPD) or Internal Medicine Foundation (IMF) clerkship mentor; or direction from a faculty member and have a plan for both your core and elective rotations.
  2. Make a study plan.  Do this at the beginning of each core rotation and be realistic. Develop the habit of studying a minimum of two hours every day during your core rotations. Put this time on your calendar, the same calendar on which you list dates with family and friends. This will help tremendously on your core clerkship subject examination (SCE) and the United States Licensing Medical Exam® (USMLE) Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam.
  3. Choose two or three resources from the Ross curriculum. There are many resources out there; online videos, forums, textbooks, review books. Choose only two or three that you feel give you a well-rounded overview of the specialty topics and that you can complete from beginning to end during the rotation. You  list of Ross-recommended resources in your IMF training materials to use for reference. Develop your own product, where you transfer notes from the resources   that can be reviewed two times before SCEs and two times prior to USMLE Step 2 CK. This is in addition to the multiple choice questions from the question banks.
  4. Share clinical cases with peers. Learn from your fellow students outside the classroom. Talk about the patient cases you have each encountered.
  5. Learn from your mistakes. Think about what happened when you were studying for USMLE Step 1, what worked for you and what didn’t. Make the necessary adjustments for USMLE Step 2 CK and SCE preparation. Whether you had a hard time completing question banks, used too many resources, or encountered external stressors, learn from these experiences in order to improve your score going forward.
  6. Arrange to take Internal Medicine (IM) and Family Medicine (FM) sub-internships prior to Step 2 CK study breaks. Schedule an internal medicine sub-internship or family medicine sub-internship for the month before you plan on taking your dedicated study break for USMLE Step 2 CK. The timing and content of this rotation can help you to get into the mindset of practicing general medicine which may prove to be beneficial in helping to succeed on USMLE Step 2 CK. More than half of USMLE Step 2CK questions are from IM, FM and EM.
  7. Take Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) seriously. It is not just assessing your communication skills but also your abilities in data gathering and clinical reasoning. Find a study partner, review the First Aid for USMLE Step 2 CS, and put in the work. There is no secret or shortcut you can use to pass this test. Focus on practicing repetition of standardized patient encounters and practice 10-minute note-writing. Use the Becker Mock CS test and/or Ross Mock CS as a screening test. It is a great tool to assess your competencies in communication and clinical reasoning. 
  8. Join a national medical specialty association for the specialty in which you will be applying during match and attend one of their meetings. These medical associations are in place to connect their members and advance their specialty. Most of the associations offer a discounted price for medical students and some, like the ACP offer a free membership. Use this connection to meet other medical students, residents, practicing physicians, and program directors who have similar interests.
  9. Find an interesting topic or case report during your third or fourth years and write an abstract/presentation with residents and/or faculty. Once you have found your special case or topic, reach out to someone whom you can use as a mentor to help with the process of creating an abstract or case report. Ask an attending or resident if he or she thinks it would be a good subject for a case report or research project. When you have a completed project, submit it to different local, regional, and national meetings as a poster or presentation. This is the icing on the cake for students who have done well.
  10. Re-charge your batteries. Schedule time to be with family and friends during your routine study time. You need to have time away from medicine. Staying in contact with the regular world outside of a hospital or clinic will help prevent burn out or emotional exhaustion.