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Jefferson Medical College Alpha Omega Alpha Guide to Residency

Scheduling 3rd and 4th Year

3rd Year Scheduling

It may seem like you have some level of control over your third-year schedule, but you probably don’t. So the best advice we can give is don’t worry too much about the order of your clerkships, it will all work out. A few things you may try to arrange:

  • If you think you might be interested in one of the specialties represented in the core clerkships, attempt to take that rotation during blocks 2-6. Waiting until block 2, gives you one rotation to get the hang of third year before you start a rotation in which you really want to shine. Avoiding blocks 7 and 8 allows you to try to rotation before your 4th year schedule is due. Keep in mind that your 4 th year schedule is fairly flexible (with the exception of Neuro/Rehab and Emergency Medicine) so even if you don’t rotate through your dream specialty until block 8, all is not lost.
  • Scheduling your IDEPTS during 4 th year can give you some wiggle room during 3rd year to try something earlier. You can then schedule an elective in 3 rd year (often the 8 th block, but not necessarily). Be aware that some courses are unavailable to 3rd years until they have taken all or some set number of core clerkships (diagnositic radiology is one) and some are only available to 4th years (Emergency Medicine and Dermatology are examples). You should be able to find course descriptions and requirements on Pulse. Likely under the “Organizations” tab (Class of 200_) The “Master Course List” will have the list of courses and when they are offered. The “Clinical Curriculum Overview” will have the list of requirements for graduation and any prerequisites required.
  • If you want to get a jump on 4th year, (helpful if you don’t know what you want to do yet or if you’re participating in the early match) you can often schedule an elective to start immediately after 3 rd year is over during the 2-week vacation. This is called block 21 and not all departments offer courses during this time. Check the “Master Course List” mentioned above.

4th Year Scheduling

This is the first year that you will be able to choose what you take during medical school. It’s great! As mentioned above, the only two rotations that are tough to switch around are Neuro/Rehab and Emergency Medicine. However, if things just absolutely don’t work out with your schedule (and you’re nice about it) things can usually be changed even with these rotations. The first three months of the 4th year (July, August, and September) are the blocks in which you want to put things you’re interested in. This is the best time to shine and to get a letter of recommendation. If you haven’t decided on your specialty you can try a few things here that you weren’t exposed to enough (or at all) during the 3rd year. This is a pretty stressful time but keep in mind that even though it may seem that you are the only person going through this turmoil, in reality just about everyone in the class is also still trying to figure out what they’re going to be. Seriously, ask around, you’ll be surprised. The attendings also understand what you’re going though. Most of them feel sorry for us, because it used to be that students had a lot more time to make a career choice. If you change your mind at the last minute and ask them for an LOR, it will probably be okay. So try not to add stress to an already stressful time and spend your energy on deciding what you truly want to be after this is all over.

Sub-I’s -It is sometimes better to schedule sub-I’s later in the year and to do electives in your field during the first three months (if there is a sub-I offered in your field). This is specific to the specialty though. Outpatient sub-Is might actually be good to do early. The best rotation for the first three months is one in which you spend most of your time with the attending, not with the team of residents. Do some research about the rotation and find out if you will be hanging with the attending and fellows, or just another member of the resident team. A good example of this is inpatient medicine, where you rarely see the attending. If you are on a consult service (elective) you will have more frequent interactions with the attendings. You can do your sub-I before interview season is over and treat it like an audition rotation at Jeff, but it might not be the best place to get an LOR. See specialty pages for more specific advice on this.

Away Rotations - Also specialty specific. Students do these for many different reasons, including trying out a program or trying to impress a program that you think you might want to go to. You can get LORs from these rotations as well. This is definitely a question for your specialty specific advisor. A listing of all away rotations offered at US Allopathic schools can be found here.

A link to the AOA away rotation reviews.

The rest of 4 th year -the next important time during 4th year is November-January, which is when you will be interviewing (for regular match positions). Most people will have the bulk of their interviews during December. In some specialties you may be able to push them back to mostly in January if you want to, but in others you may have little choice. See specialty pages for specific information. The best option is to take vacation during one of these months and to schedule most of your interviews for that time. If you are applying far away, this is probably your only option, since you will have to take extra days for travel. If you aren’t applying to very many programs and you are applying locally, you may be able to actually do rotations during these months. Most rotations are pretty nice about it. Officially you can miss 2 days without making up the time and 2 additional (total of four) days that you are required to make up. Talk to the people running your rotation about the specifics of these rules as applied to their rotation. Rotations notorious for giving people a hard time for missing days are Neuro/Rehab, Radiology and Urology. Emergency Medicine is a good rotation for scheduling around because you schedule your own shifts (except that you are required to be around for class every Friday). If you find that you need to take vacation, you can shift your class schedule fairly easily (again, as long as you’re nice about it and as long as you didn’t take all of your vacation yet).

How to Pick Your Specialty

This topic is an entire guide in itself. Briefly: try things, find out what you like, research it to make sure it’s really what you think it is and go for it! The Careers in Medicine pages can be helpful ( Talk to the student affairs deans and people in the specialties you’re interested in and keep in mind that just about everyone in your class is going to struggle with this. Good luck!

Last updated: March 2010

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