How Did That Happen?: How to survive rotations you hate

This week’s installment of How Did That Happen? is all about surviving rotations you hate.stethoscopes1

I know, there are people out there in the world who love all of medicine and enjoyed every single rotation they did. I am not one of those people. I tolerated every rotation. I did well on them. But, I did not see myself living in that department much longer than already required.

  • First of all, refer to the post on trying to be a good resident.  Trying to be a good resident or med student is always a good launching point for surviving any rotation.
  • Feign interest. I’m not talking being over the top. Just show up and act semi-interested and participate while not complaining.
  • Don’t lie or suck-up. Nothing is more annoying than that kid who always has their nose in the staff’s butt, no matter what rotation you are on. They always want to do this forever and love everything. If you like something, then say so. If you don’t, stop faking it. People can see through it or pick up on it over time. It makes you look bad. And annoying to the people you work with .
  • Be positive. Some days this is harder than others. But, don’t sulk around and be miserable. Find the bright sides in the rotation… Where this will help you in the future, how you are helping others… Those sorts of things. And cling to them. Especially when people ask what you think and your first thought is to say it sucks.
  • Look on the bright side. This is kind of like being positive, but moreso in your own head.   Think of how things could be worse or how much you have already completed or other milestones that get you through (like vacations, weekends, post-call days, academic half days).
  • Do your job. If you are on a rotation and you have a job to do, do it. Simple.
  • Figure out what you like and stick with it.If you can’t leave the rotation, join them. What aspects make you want to gouge your eyes out less? When I was on Radiology, I rewarded myself with Nuc Med stuff once a week. On Gen Surg, I would volunteer to do clinics because it was better than going to the OR.
  • Go the extra mile in ways you can handle.If you are a procedures person, offer to do the procedures you come across (even if they are few and far between). You are more theoretical? Volunteer to do the journal club or presentations. Even if you are bored or unhappy, taking steps to do things that show your interest in some area is better than nothing.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes, the stuff I think I will hate the most is the stuff that turns out to be okay. I generally say I don’t love procedures. I do, however love debriding wounds and pulling drains. I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t try.
  • Set goals.My program often doles out giant lists of objectives for every rotation. It is good to know what you need to do or even what you want to do, so that you can focus on getting it done (and getting the bad pieces over with). Plus, it can direct studying and such, so you hopefully don’t have to do it again.
  • Have a good support network. Have good people around so that when you have a rough day or are working with ridiculous people, you can vent and bounce ideas off of them. There are some rotations where my rant days outweighed the good days, but that is life.
  • Do other stuff. Some rotations eat your life. Sure, you might work a million hours and study most of the rest, but take time to go to the gym or eat out with friends. It keeps a person sane, especially during the rough stuff.
  • Remember other people survived this too. There has to be some way out if everyone does it.

What are your surviving bad rotation tips?

4 thoughts on “How Did That Happen?: How to survive rotations you hate

  1. I feel like I haven’t had a rotations that I truly hate, but I’m sure it’l happen eventually haha. But when I do find myself in a situation or part of a rotation that I don’t enjoy, I definitely try to keep a positive attitude. If not, you really get sucked into the negativity and it’s bad news bears.

    Awesome tips, and I’m sure I’ll need them sooner or later!

    • Hopefully you will just love everything and never need these tips! I think I have found positive bits to every rotation, but there are some that I was definitely not a fan of.

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