Updated: November 25, 2021

Clinical rotations take a medical school education to the next level. Core and elective rotations allow med school students to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom and develop their clinical skills by treating real patients in real life medical situations. 

Of course, you probably have some questions about what exactly goes on during core clinical rotations. Below, we’ll answer questions about what you learn during a clinical rotation, how these core rotations advance your medical career, and why clinical rotations are so important.

Putting Medical School Studies Into Practice

physician examining sample

Clinical rotations (sometimes called clinical clerkships), comprise the last two years of medical education. 

During rotations, students shadow physicians and residents at teaching hospitals, have access to patients, and gain valuable hands-on experience in clinical medicine. Working under the tutelage of experienced physicians, students work with residents to treat patients and solve complex medical dilemmas. 

U.S. medical school students typically participate in clinical rotations at one hospital while Caribbean medical school students complete rotations at teaching hospitals throughout the United States. In this way, studying medicine abroad can actually provide American students with greater options than if they had studied medicine close to home. 

In most medical schools, this is students’ first hands-on experience interacting with patients. At American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine, we provide students with the opportunity to obtain clinical experience early, making them better prepared for their rotations. 

AUAMED has a simulation lab where students can put in practice what they have learned in the classroom. Students also take pre-clinical courses at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre, where they are able to interact with patients. These aspects of the curriculum provide AUAMED students with an advantage when they begin their clinical rotations.

Med School Students Often Find Their Medical Specialty Through Elective Rotations

medical student walking down hospital corridor

Medical students gain clinical experience through two types of rotations: core rotations and elective rotations. 

Core rotations are usually built around the disciplines of internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery and obstetrics & gynecology to expose students to the reality of providing patient care in each of these contexts. While elective rotations allow students to explore different paths for their medical career, according to their interests. 

From Caribbean Medical Schools to Clinical Rotations in the United States

medical team performing a surgical procedure

Because AUA is approved by the New York State Education Department and recognized by the Medical Board of California, it has more clinical affiliates throughout the United States than any other Caribbean medical school.  This provides AUA students a number of options for clinical rotations and the opportunity to build a broad network through residency programs.

Clinical rotations are important for obtaining a residency position because they act as informal interviews. The physicians and hospital administrators you work with are the ones that will most likely write your recommendation letters. They can offer you a heads up about career opportunities at the hospital or other hospitals in the area. Rotations are not all networking, though.

These rotations assist students in figuring out what residencies are right for them. By shadowing physicians in a variety of disciplines, students are able to make a more educated decision about what specialty they want to join. These sorts of decisions don’t come easily. That’s why it’s pivotal to explore as many rotations as you can. This way, you’ll discover the specialty you’re truly passionate about.

From Medical Students to Medical Doctors

group of doctors and medical students walking down a corridor

Medical students obtain the experience necessary to become physicians because of these rotations, which is why they typically come towards the end of their studies. By the time they graduate, they need to be fully prepared to act as physicians in their residencies and clinical rotations are the perfect training tool to make the jump from medical school seamless.