Usually the first two years of medical school often includes classroom lectures and laboratory work. But come years three and four, you are required to complete clinical rotations and medical electives

Most schools require you to complete a total of 24 clinical rotations. You will complete 12 rotations your third year of med school and 12 your fourth year. Medical schools vary on which medical specialties they require for rotations. Many schools include pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, family practice, psychiatry and obstetrics.

Required clinical rotations are mandatory regardless of what specialty you eventually want to pursue. But in addition to required clinical rotations, you also have medical  electives you must complete.

The number of medical electives offered will vary by school. Some medical schools, which are affiliated with several large medical centers, may offer a large variety of clinical medical electives.  Smaller med school programs may have fewer resources and not offer as many medical electives.

Aims of the medical electives

It is important to decide what you want to get out of the medical electives. Do you want to get a general overview of the medical system/hospitals/conditions in the developed or less developed world? Or are you looking for something more specific? Do you want to publish research papers? Do you want to teach? Do you want to become an expert in hematology by working in a specialist hematology centre? Do you want to witness unusual medical conditions that you have read about in textbooks? Do you want to become competent at medical procedures, eg putting in chest drains by working at a trauma centre?

Get help with choosing elective 

The best resource will be past medical students who have been on their elective. They will have good ideas, contact details and may be able to put you in touch with colleagues who have experienced other electives. Ask your foundation year 1 doctors (FY1s), senior house officers, registrars and consultants – everyone should have some good ideas and will be willing to share experiences of their elective.Most medical schools keep details of past medical electives, which may include contact details as well as reviews.

Type of medical electives

Although the clinical medical electives offered may vary by program, some typical medical electives include anesthesiology, emergency medicine, neurology and pathology. Some schools may also offer, genetics, dermatology and radiology.

Clinical medical electives are a great opportunity to prepare a student for residency matching. Medical Elective also allow a student to gain more experience in an area of medicine they think they may want to pursue. Completing electives enhances the medical school experience.

The process of gaining the medical electives you want may vary by school. In many instances, you apply for the medical electives you want in the spring of your third year of medical school. Because there may be limited spots for some medical electives, students may be chosen through a lottery system.

Choosing medical electives

Which medical electives you chose should be considered carefully. Medical electives may be a stepping stone to your residency. During clinical medical electives, you are often given more responsibility than you were during mandatory rotations. Many times medical electives are in your fourth year of school, which means more is expected from you.

There are often fewer students in an elective rotation, so you may get more one on one attention from your resident, which can be helpful. Because you may get to know your residents better during your medical electives, it can be helpful when it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation for a residency.

By the time you apply for clinical medical electives, you may have decided which medical specialty to pursue. If that is the case, deciding on clinical medical electives may be easy. In addition to selecting the elective in your area of interest, consider other medical electives that complement your specialty. For instance, if you want to be a pediatrician, an elective in emergency medicine may be helpful.

If you have not completely decided on a certain specialty, clinical medical electives are a great opportunity to get a better idea of a certain branch of medicine. Going into each elective with an open mind, can help you figure out what you are best suited for. Keep in mind, sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone to find the medical specialty, which is right for you.

Washington Medical Science Institute

Washington Medical Science Institute (WMSI) is an international Medical School, recognized and listed with ECFMG and World Health Organization.

WMSl is offering fully accredited formal medical programmes since 2010, WMSl also working with its partners and developed WMSl International Health Science Research Centres, the main objective of the WMSI IHSRC is to deliver American standard locally accredited programs through its centres in different countries.

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