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Fourth year: Surgery Audition Rotations

Auditions: rotations a 4th year medical student does at various hospitals with a residency program in their desired specialty, in order to ideally prove he/she would be a good candidate (but also see if the program is a good fit). The student has already filled out a lengthy application + written personal statement + uploaded all scholarly and volunteer activities + spent an exorbitant amount of $

Here is my perspective and some of the advice that was given to me, that I found helpful. 


These are good ones to have on hand - you will have weekly didactic topics (SCORE curriculum) that you will need to read on + cases + pimping questions + patient maladies + all of the pimping questions

  • Surgical recall
  • Surgical advanced
  • ABSITE Review - carried this in my white coat, wrote notes in it during didactics, read before cases
  • Schwartz Principles of Surgery textbook - this has been my favorite text for a 4th year level since it's an easier read 
  • Notebook for notes on what you need to read/look up, or tidbits you learn 
  • ICU rotations: The ICU book + The Ventilator book - you're welcome.

Before your rotation

  • Find a place to live, well ahead of time: friends/family, Airbnb,,
  • Email the program coordinator 1 week in advance to confirm (side note: always be courteous to everyone, but definitely to coordinators)
  • Find out where and when your team will meet the first day & what you should wear (scrubs or professional? If unsure, dress up professional and bring socks/shoes just in case you change into scrubs)
  • Review hospital layout or do a quick walk around before you start, if possible
  • I didn’t do this, but some suggest reading the evaluation form prior to the rotation, and ask preceptors for feedback midway through
  • After second week: ask for a program director meeting and discuss what you've enjoyed, strengths of the program, and how that fits into your values.

During your rotation: Preparation

  • Cases:
    • Study the medical condition/pathophysiology
    • Surgery indications
    • Know the basic ANATOMY!
    • Youtube the surgery for basic steps/flow
  • Patients
    • Know how to present a patient in an ICU setting  
    • I don't care how early you have to get there. You better know everything about your patients. Specifically but not limited to: Presenting HPI, major history, surgery/procedures performed and why, results/findings (path/diagnosis/status), labs, overnight events, what's draining out of them and how much/color/consistency, and subjective: flatus, BMs, N/V, pain control, complaints
  • Presentations
    • Always clarify what your topic is, what to cover, and preferences on presentation (powerpoint? hand outs?) 
    • If there are no preferences, make a powerpoint if it's in a sit down lecture setting, and create hand outs if it's on rounds
  • Your Team
    • Be a nice human being and be helpful. Everyone picks up on the students who are trying to throw people under the bus, and nobody will want you around
    • Get to know other students, commiserate, talk. I've met some of my greatest friends during this time

On Feelings (Ugh, I know)

  • You will be in a constant state of unknown - do they like me? Did I say or do the right thing? Did what I say or do come off a different way? Do I like them/can I see myself here? This is normal. Try to remind yourself to work hard but also be yourself, because you don't want to end up anywhere where they don't like you, anyway.
  • Try to perform at the level of an intern - don’t feel bad about not knowing something, but you better know it next time.
  • On that note, look up every question asked on rounds, even if it was to another student. You're expected to, and don't want to look like an idiot if they ask you instead. 
  • Don't underestimate the influence of any individual person on your rotation. This makes it difficult because you will constantly be "on" - yes, every single word and action is judged. 

As your rotation is ending

  • Write a thank you card to each person you worked with & try to include a personalized touch about what you learned 
  • Ask for an exit interview - have a copy of your CV and application
  • Ask for a letter of recommendation from the chair of surgery dept from first 1-2 auditions 
  • Write down what your gestalt impression was of the rotation, then break down pros/cons about living area, opportunities, program specifics (including stipends, health insurance, malpractice, mentors and their specialties, exposure/variety, traveling for rotations, etc) 
  • Consider keeping a running match list 
  • Keep in touch with the program director via email (or text, if they prefer it) about your continued interest as you move through rotations
  • Keep in touch with residents that you got along with/are on a texting basis about your continued interest and any questions


2017: Presence.

2017: Presence.

January 21st, 2017.