So I wanted to share my experience so far after completing my away rotations. Feel free to follow with your opinions and own experiences.
My first rotation was at a big name program and had an overall great experience. The residents and staff were all great. The residents seemed really happy and the experience there both in the OR and in the clinic was top notch. It lived up to it's rep. I did though feel like a fish out of water there, the department runs real smooth with out med students so trying to get in to see patients on your own and help with charting and stuff was awkward for both me and the staff. I feel like when I was there I worked my butt off, up real early and in the hospital before any of the residents studying the days cases and patients. I rotated with three of there services and with the first two I hard a real good experience. The last one the experience was alright but I never really seemed to connect with the attending (not saying I expect too with all of them). I really had little interaction with him and him and the resident seemed to forget I was even around half the time. I left there feeling good about the rotation. Unfittingly I just found out the one attending grading me was, of course, the one who barely noticed me. So I ended up with a HP and not honors. Not sure if this is a sign that I will not be back in the fall or not, I did get along very well with the other attendings' and residents. I guess this goes to show that when you do an away rotation there always runs the chance that you will be matched up with an attending who you just don't match up with (personality etc.). I was feeling that this place was a good fit for me but now I have second thoughts and question everything I heard and said there, not fun.
My second rotation was at another strong program closer to home. I really liked all the residents, I mean they were all people I would be friends with outside of residency. The program was well run and had great experiences for the residents. I felt that they may have some lacking experience in the early years of their residency (less OR time, less big cases) Also the hours sounded a bit harsh, but hey its residency right. The attendings' were all really great. I found them very personable and you can tell they connected well with the residents and often hung out outside of the hospitals. My evaluation there was reassuring after feeling like maybe a screwed up some way (not sure how?) at my last rotation. Again I felt I worked hard the whole time and got a lot out of the experience.
Looking back I would have only done one rotation. I feel now that going away to see a different program other than your home programs is all that is really needed, two was a little over kill. Second after three uro rotation, you get tired of waking up everyday and putting on your interview smile and up beat attitude. It's like going on an interview everyday for three months! Also I was under the assumption (ignorantly?) that because of my hard work ethic, good social skills, good fundamental knowledge that I was would surely never make a bad impression doing my away's. I think now I know clearly that not everything is in your control and that something's may happen that could make you come off as not the perfect applicant (which you are trying to be everyday!).
So if you're starting a rotation or already in one then here are some of my opinions (just opinions):
- You can't make everyone happy all the time, so don't get to worked up when you don't feel like everyone's 1#
- Picture yourself as a resident there, from intern year all the way up to chief, would you be happy?
- Write thank you's
- Do a presentation, offer too if no one tells you too.
- Try as you might there will be some attending and/or resident's that you will never be able to read or figure out their impression of you or your work.
- Be nice to the staff in the OR, ask about their lives too, don't just share your's. Not sure if this will help you with getting in to a program but it surely will hurt you if they decide they don't like you so much and walk around like your entitled to something.
- Read about the cases and know if any of the attendings' are big in a research field ( i.e RPLND's, Kidney tumors, etc) then read there papers.
Sorry for any spelling or grammar errors.