students, making the switch to clinical training can be a little overwhelming. While
there’s a lot to take in, intern and former Avant Student Advisory Council member,
Dr Clinton Colaco, shares his own experience and some practical tips to make
the transition as easy and rewarding as possible.
Clinton, (pictured) who
completed his medical degree at Bond University in Queensland and now works as
an intern at Sydney’s Blacktown Hospital, believes the key difference between
pre-clinical and clinical training is an emphasis on self-directed learning.
“You need to
suss out what you think is important and go from there, because you are not
going to get a series of learning objectives that say ‘this is what you need to
know,’ like you did in your pre-clinical years,” he warns.
Just say ‘yes’
can take a while to get the hang of clinical rotations, but being friendly and open-minded will
make for a smooth transition.
“If you are
new to the hospital, introduce yourself to everyone you will be in contact with
and be willing to do anything,” Clinton says. “Be willing to do different
procedures and even the little odd jobs, whether that’s passing on a form or
when he was first given the opportunity to insert a catheter into a patient with
“I had never
done one before, but I had some assistance from an emergency doctor who guided
me through it,” he says. “I did it with no problems whatsoever, which surprised
both of us,” he laughs.
Take lots of notes
advises taking brief notes of any patient’s cases during hospital rotations. Not
only will this help you to recall particular cases, it will help when it comes
to exam time.
example, if I saw something and didn’t really know much about it, I would note
it down and look it up at the end of the day,” Clinton says. “This really
cemented my learning, both from a clinical and academic perspective.”
Find a balance
without saying that successfully completing your clinical training is very important,
but Clinton believes it’s equally important for medical students to maintain a balanced lifestyle to cope with the stress that can come during these years.
of students neglect the other aspects of their life during their clinical
training,” he says. “Some say ‘medicine isn’t simply a career but a lifestyle
choice,’ but I think some students take this comment a little too seriously and
forget to consider their health and social activities.”
completing his final year, Clinton maintained a work and life balance by taking
part in a range of extra-curricular activities including being a member of the Medical
Students Society, playing cricket, regularly attending the gym, working as a
high school tutor and travelling around Australia and overseas.
won’t be without its challenges, but you should now have an idea of what to
expect and how to prepare to get the most out of your clinical years.
Clinton’s quick tips
Introduce yourself to other students and staff – especially
the hospital ward’s Nursing Unit Manager.
you start any clinical rotation it’s a good idea to read up on the specialty to
get a feel for it. Supplement the practical knowledge you gain during your
rotations by doing further reading and multiple choice questions.
observe the same procedure five times – make sure you see a variety of
willing and able
to perform any duties within your limits to increase your medical knowledge and
skills. For example, if you are given the opportunity to suture – say yes.
consent and document
Patients are generally very happy to assist in the
education of medical students. However, it’s important that patients understand
your position and role, and consent to you performing
any procedures on them. It’s a good idea to start to document all your clinical
interventions in the patient’s file, including any discussions around obtaining
verbal consent from patients.
organised in tracking patients
Learn how to track patients and follow up their
results. Develop a systematic approach to track every patient through their
admission and any outstanding actions.
a good understanding of specialties outside of your clinical interests as you will
be interacting with these doctors, nurses and allied health staff in the future.
up your extra-curricular activities during your clinical training to maintain a
balanced lifestyle – you don’t want to come across as a one-dimensional bore at
on striking a healthy balance during your transition to clinical training visit
our Health and Wellbeing website or the Doctors’ Health Advisory Service in your state or territory.
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