Indicators of a successful clinical year

By Tiffany Tie

In medical school, we are constantly assessed through various modalities including assignments, examinations, OSCEs and MCRs.  However, there is a growing body of research which suggests that certain experiences on the ward are highly predictive of students developing strong clinical acumen. This list can be used to formatively self-assess your progress throughout the course.   

1. Unwittingly following your registrar to the bathroom

You trail after your registrar like a lost puppy, from ward to ward, clinic to clinic.  You follow them down the corridor that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere… and then they enter the bathroom.  A good registrar is someone who signposts when they are going to the toilet.

2. Fainting in hospital

This can happen on the wards, in theatre or in clinic.  It is not a sign of weakness; rather, it is a true sign of commitment to medicine.  Just remember to faint away from the patient, especially if you are scrubbed.

3. Deciphering a drug chart

The scribbles on drug charts resemble the trail of a spider that tap-danced across the page.  Deciphering this brings into play the pattern-recognition skills from section 3 of the UMAT. Hospitals that use electronic prescribing systems fail to provide this exceptional educational opportunity.     

4. Meeting the MET call criteria for low urine output

A wise registrar once told me that the hospital systems just would not function if not for the hidden workforce of unpaid medical students.  As a consequence, you build stamina to go through days with early starts, no food, no water, no opportunity to void and mild AKI

5. Anxiously awaiting or sending a fax

Healthcare in Australia is amazing in its ability to provide universal care and to single-handedly support both the historic pager and fax industries.  A device on which you can receive but not send messages is essential for maximising efficiency.

6. Substituting meals with coffee

An average small flat white with regular milk contains all three macros: 7 g fat, 8.8 g carbohydrates and 6.2 g protein.  If you have a nice intern, registrar or consultant, then who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe that was payment for the 10 discharge summaries you did yesterday afternoon.  Wait, coffee doesn’t count as lunch…. Or does it?

7. Getting conned into a research project

When a seemingly innocent clinician pitches their idea to you, beware of phrases such as “it’ll look good on your CV” and “it won’t take much time.”  Trawling through medical records to extract data for “only a few patients” is a similar experience to repeatedly banging your head against a brick wall.

8. Obstructing the hallway

Physicians think, surgeons cut, medical students obstruct.  

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