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Tips to Acing your Emergency Medicine Rotations

"This is my first EM rotation."

"What can I do to get an interview?"

"How can I get a great SLOE?"

So I have been asked about giving advice for those who are schedule for emergency medicine rotations. Although I have only been a resident for about 2 months, I have noticed a few things medical students do and I've also included some of the things I have done during the rotations which helped me become successful. Please take these tips into consideration since this is only MY opinion and not fact. I hope these help!

1. Be Punctual

Arrive 15 minutes early. “When you’re early you’re on time and when you’re on time, you’re late.” It’s also a good thing to arrive before the attending you are working with arrives. This also allows you to put your things away and get ready to see a patient versus scrambling and rushing.

2. Be Social

Introduce yourself to everyone. No one knows who you are and therefore, introduce yourself to your attending, the other attendings, secretaries, nurses and other residents in the area. It’s also good to be personable and to be friendly to everyone since everyone is watching. I am serious. It is called an audition rotation anyway.

3. Knowing your boundaries

Never sit where the attendings and residents are sitting. You’re not an attending and you’re not even a resident. Definitely give them the seat and let them use the computer (as a medical student) since they will be the ones charting and putting orders in. The only time I sat was when my attending told me to.

I specifically remember a time when I was working and didn't know a medical student was working with me because she never introduced herself to me and was sitting in the area where the attendings sit, which confused me even more. To me, I don't think that's right.

4. Attending Styles

Before beginning, I would ask your attending how they would like things run. Ask them how they would like you to pick up patients or will they be telling you which patients to see.

5. Full MDM

Aside from working on your H&P, you will definitely need to have about 5-6 differential diagnoses with a work up in mind before presenting. This is a guarantee.

6. Reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate.

I specifically remember receiving feedback after a shift when I worked with the program director at one of my rotations. She liked how I re-evaluated and checked up on my patients every so often so I highly suggest this.

7. Procedures and Codes

I’ll be honest - I did a few procedures during my rotations but most of them went to the interns since they needed their numbers. Always just be there to lend an extra hand. I mostly assisted or observed certain procedures being performed with the residents.

8. Never lie.

If your attending asked if you asked a certain question, or performed a certain physical exam, tell the truth. Don’t make it up because most attendings will recheck. Some attendings will even ask the patient if you asked a certain question or performed a certain exam maneuver, etc.

9. Don’t be a kiss ass. Everyone can tell who sucks up to attendings. I know all students need a way of "becoming memorable", but you definitely do not want to be remembered for being a kiss ass. Residents don't like it either.

10. Personal Space

I definitely understand the need to become "involved" in every procedure or code. That's great, but there are times when attendings and residents need their personal space. Don't hover or be too close to them (especially in a sterile procedure) and just be aware of your surroundings.

11. Program Director Meeting

Schedule a meeting with the PD midway through or near the end of your rotation. Let them know who you are, your interest in EM and interest in the program, etc. “It’s good to put a face to the name,” as one of the PDs I met had told me.

12. Medical Education

Attend didactics and do NOT be late.

When an attending asks you a question, look it up and tell them answer. They will remember that you made the effort to look it up when you didn't know.


So far, these are a few things I've noticed and thought about when I rotated through four emergency medicine rotations as well as working as an EM resident. If you have any specific questions, please let me know! I would also LOVE to know how your EM rotations go! :)


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Kandria Ledesma, MD

Emergency Medicine resident

NJ      Antigua      NY       CA

Medicine, Running, Birds, Plants, Food, Dinos 


Dino of the Month: Carnotaurus

Plant of the Month: Nepenthes Attenboroughii

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