Clinical rotations are one of the most critical elements in medical education. In the final two years of medical school, students gain hands-on experience and training under supervision while working in hospitals and clinics. 

Clinical rotations are also more commonly known as clerkships, clinicals, and clinical experiences. These are speciality-focused experiences undertaken by the students based on the specialisation they want to pursue in the world of medicine or surgery. These specialities can range from surgery to internal medicine to psychiatry. 

Many students might doubt whether clinical rotations even count as work experience. While a rotation doesn’t give the students enough experience to obtain a license to practice in any speciality, they are meant to be the starting point. Once the student joins a residency program, they gain the relevant expertise that could count as work experience.

Clinical rotations do give the students a wide range of knowledge and training required to choose a speciality and a career path. It also gives the students a gateway into the lifestyle of a doctor or medical practitioner.

Different Types of Clinical rotations

After the student has completed the basic science part of the course or medical curriculum, they can qualify to start their clinical rotation. There are two broad categories in clinical rotations, which are:

  • Core rotations – These are mandatory. Students are required to have core rotations in order to complete their degrees. The types of rotations under core rotations can vary depending on the resources provided by the medical school. Here are the common rotations under this category:
    1. Neurology Rotation
    2. Internal Medicine Rotation
    3. Family Medicine Rotation
    4. Pediatrics Rotation
    5. Psychiatry Rotation
    6. Obstetrics/Gynecology
    7. General Surgery Rotation 
  • Elective rotations: These are optional for students, and can be chosen freely. They have a vast variety of specialties depending on the student’s interests. Some of these elective rotations can even be conducted as core medicine based on the medical school’s curriculum. Here are the most common elective rotations students can choose from:
    1. Emergency Medicine Rotation
    2. Pathology Rotation
    3. Cardiology Rotation
    4. Radiology Rotation
    5. Dermatology Rotation
    6. Orthopedics Rotation
    7. Ophthalmology Rotation 
    8. Infectious Disease Rotation
    9. ICU Rotation 
    10. Plastic Surgery Rotation 
    11. Allergy & Immunology Rotation
    12. Hematology & Oncology Rotation
    13. Pulmonology Rotation
    14. Gastroenterology Rotation
    15. Allergy & Immunology Rotation

Average Cost of Clinical Rotations

On average in the USA, a hospital can charge anywhere between $500 to $600 per week for signing up for a clinical rotation program. A minimum of 80 weeks of clinical rotation can cost around $40,000 to $45,000 for students. Similarly, a standard four weeks of clinical rotation can cost between $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the hospital chosen. The specific costs can be different based on the specialty selected, as well as other factors like the physician, location, type of experience, affiliations, and more. 

Requirements for Applying for Clinical Rotations

To embark on the clinical rotation journey, a medical student must be in their 3rd year of the program. Different clinical rotation programs can have different requirements for applying to them. Many carry out the application process online, and some do it offline. The one requirement that remains constant through these processes is the documentation. Here is a comprehensive list of all the different types of documents you should have ready to apply for a clinical rotation program:

  • Resume
  • USMLE Step 1 Result
  • Personal Statement
  • Letter of Intent
  • Letter of Good Standing with Medical School (if the student intends to apply for a program outside of their medical school)
  • Dean’s Letter
  • Immunization Records 
  • Transcripts
  • HIPAA awareness training certificate
  • Malpractice Insurance
  • Urine Drug Screening report
  • Criminal Background Check

Now that you know about the basics of clinical rotations, it is time to assess which type is the most suitable for you, and apply.