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Preparing for Your First 4th Year Rotation

Posted by Amanda Dexter on May 4, 2016 12:00:00 AM


Most of you 3rd year students are about to head out for your first rotation of your 4th year. Even though there is only a few day transition period from being a 3rd year in clinic to a 4th year on rotation, what is going to be expected from you is going to increase greatly.

You are getting closer and closer to graduation and becoming a doctor, and with that comes a lot of responsibilities. As a 4th year you are going to be challenged by your staff doctors to feel comfortable making complex medical decisions, and you will need to show confidence when presented with tough patients.

This is your last chance to take it all in, learn from your attending doctors, and make the most of your final year working with some of the best optometrists and teachers out there.

No matter if you are staying at school for your first 4th year rotation, or traveling across the country, here are a few tips to help you prepare for your final year as an optometry student:

1. Be Prepared 

Be sure to make contact with your staff doctor before heading out to your rotation site. Make sure that you know what equipment you need to bring, what attire you are expected to wear, and what time to show up. I’d also recommend asking what the first few days at the new site will entail so that you know if you’ll be shadowing first, or jumping directly into patient care. This will help you be more mentally prepared and reduce any anxiety if you know what to expect on your first day.

2. Arrive Early 

Make sure that you arrive early on your first day of clinic. I used to scope out my new rotation site before the first day so that I knew exactly where I was going, what the traffic in the area was like in the morning, and what the parking situation looked like, so that I was sure to give myself enough time for my morning commute. You do not want to show up late on your first day at a new site. There are no excuses that could erase the poor first impression of you arriving late to work on day one. 

3. Do Your Research 

Research the clinic that you’ll be spending the next several months seeing patients in. Have an idea of who the attending doctor is that you’ll be working with, as well as the types of patients that you should expect to see. If you are going to be working at a refractive surgery center, brush up on some of the criteria for LASIK surgery candidates. Or if you'll be working at a VA hospital, you may want to review the staging for diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy and macular degeneration. If you are able to intelligently show knowledge and answer questions from your new staff doctors, I guarantee they will be very impressed and trust you earlier on in your rotation. 

4. Take Notes

Bring a notebook with you on the first day so that you can jot down important information that the staff doctors will review with you. It is like that they will be presenting you with a lot of information about the flow of the clinic, the types of exams that you’ll be performing, your schedule, what will be expected of you, important dates, etc. You’ll also probably be shadowing the first couple of days so that you can directly see how things work in that clinic. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking notes and then reviewing them at the end of the day. They will not want to have to review the same things over and over with you. 

5. Dress Professionally

The need for this advice varies greatly by optometry school as some schools have a dress code from the very beginning, but it is important to present yourself as a professional now that you are seeing patients on a daily basis, and especially in a new clinic. I would also recommend contacting your new attending doctor to see what they would recommend you wear to clinic, and ask if they would like for you to wear your white coat. I had rotations where the staff doctors wanted me to wear clinic attire and my white coat, and another where I was required to wear scrubs… so if you aren’t sure, just ask! 

6. Ask Questions

It’s ok to admit that you don’t know understand something or that you need clarification on certain things. Ask a lot of questions during the first few days so that you fully understand everything that is expected of you during your rotation. Also make sure that you are familiar and comfortable with all of the equipment that you’ll be using, as it is going to be different in every clinic. This will only ensure that you are prepared and confident when it comes time to seeing your first patients at your new site.

If your first clinical rotation site is away from your optometry school, stepping outside of your comfort zone at school can be quite intimidating. New cities, new clinics, new preceptors, and new patients can be very stressful, but at the same time very rewarding for your career if you take the right approach.

Every rotation will be different, and some you will like better than others, but remember to take each day to learn something useful that will help you in your career to become a better doctor. 

-Dr. Dexter 

The Top 15 Tips and Tricks for Studying for Part I of NBEO®

NBEO-Tips-large.pngWe’ve put together a ton of great tips and tricks for studying for Part I of NBEO along with two tailored study programs that will help you thoroughly prepare for the big day. Remember, you’ve made it this far and you can totally do this!

Some of the Top 15 Tips include:

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format
  • Tackle the Weak Subjects Early
  • Start Sooner and Ease Into It
  • ...and 12 more!

Topics: Rotations



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