1. Show up early. Stay late
One way to earn yourself a bad evaluation on the wards is to show up late to rounds or to conferences. There is a saying in the military that if you are 15 minutes early, you are on time and if you are on time, you are late. Get to work early and visit with your patients, check with the overnight nurses about any key events that occurred, and read about anything that you saw the day before. One thing you NEVER want to do is ask to leave. If you notice your resident falling behind on work and may end up staying late, offer to stay late as well. This small gesture will go a long way when it comes to evaluating students.
2. Bring reading materials for down time and READ, READ, READ
Believe it or not, on most rotations you will have a lot of down time. Use it wisely. Ten minutes of reading here and there can add up. By the end of the day and before I headed home each day, I had already read for a minimum of an hour on most days. By the time you get home from work, you could have already read or did several practice questions. Bring an anatomy book or surgery questions if you are on surgery or Uworld on your phone or tablet to do questions if you are on medicine. On several of my clinical evaluations, it was noted that during downtimes, I was always found reading and that my residents and staff were impressed by this.
3. Ask questions
Students who ask thoughtful questions appear interested and this helps you stand out from everyone else. Go into every rotation (even if you don’t plan to apply to that specialty) with an open mind and even if you are not interested in that particular specialty, asking questions will help you appear interested.
4. Don’t be annoying
This is probably easier said than done but most important is that you don’t try to be someone who you aren’t. Just be yourself. Simple as that. No one likes the “annoying medical student” and everyone remembers this person. Show up early, work hard, and just be yourself.
5. Take ownership and know your patients inside and out
As a 3rd or fourth-year medical student, your job is to know the patients inside and out. Residents and staff will depend on you to know everything about your patients from their history, past medical history, medications, social history, labs, etc. During down time, go back and spend time with each patient and inquire about their disease process, any psychosocial concerns, and their social well being. As you progress through the years, you will have less and less time to spend with your patients, so take advantage of this opportunity while you can during medical school.
Here are sample evaluations from my 3rd and 4th year of med school: