When putting together some resources for rotation region information, we stumbled upon a survey that was sent out in 2019. It's filled with really helpful and insightful information and we're wondering why it hasn't been shared with anyone?! So here it is in a blog post two years later in hopes that it will see the light of day and help someone in our RVU-SU MSP family:
3rd Year (rotations) Q&A from 2019
Question: Can you set up your own rotations?
Yes, but they have to be approved and it has to be done 90 days in advance.
Yes! If you have any connections with doctors or want to set up your own rotations it is allowed. Sometimes it is better to do this with certain specialties that RVU has had a hard time finding preceptors for.
Yep! You just have to be ready to contact the physician and do the majority of the legwork.
Yes, you have to get the doctor approved with the school though and the paperwork can take a while to go through.
Question: What do you wish you would have known about 3rd year?
How different each of the rotations would be as far as demands were concerned (some require more/less hours than others)
Honestly, though it has been a crazy schedule and we can’t plan too much ahead, I can’t think of something specific I wish I would have known. In general, I wish I would have known what to expect (but that’s everyday life). Luckily for the 2nd years they’ll have some answers and preparation for 3rd year. Though things change so always be prepared for change.
That it is wayyyy better than 1st and 2nd year! Of course each year has its challenges, but for me and my spouse 3rd year has been a breath of fresh air.
Sooo many things. It is a great prep year for audition rotations next year. Students love being in the clinics and hospitals, so it is a great change in that regard. Hours vary SO much depending on specialty, and the preceptor. Shelf exams are more intense than we were led to believe, and some people did fail.
How much you have to prepare for applying for audition rotations and to save as much as you can for 4th year.
Question: If you have kids, can you work full time while your S.O. is in rotations?
Maybe, if you have a baby sitter. Students don’t have a consistent enough schedule month to month
If you have consistent hours and great child care, I think it’s possible
I don’t have kids yet, but I can tell you it would be difficult. Really the only way you can do this is if you pay for childcare or have family in the area (or if you have an amazing job that allows you to take your child/children to work).
Yes, if you had full time childcare. But you absolutely cannot count on your Student Dr. to be that person. Each rotation the schedule is different and dictated by the doctor they are rotating with.
I would say that you would need to depend on a nanny/daycare/babysitter if you plan on working full-time. Some rotations have a chill schedule with 4-day weeks, where others have LONG days, and they're on call at weird hours of the day/night, PLUS their schedule changes every 4-8 weeks as they switch to different preceptors. There is no consistency, so just expect for them not to be there when it comes to childcare while you work.
I work part time from home, and that is hard. You can absolutely work full time, but you’ll need to have childcare. It is next to impossible to rely on your student as the childcare, especially because their schedules change SO often.
This depends on the person I think and if you have help with people to watch your kids. If you have someone or somewhere to watch your kids then you can. I would say you can’t rely on your husband though. Their schedules change every 4 weeks and sometimes they aren’t even consistent in those 4 weeks.
Question: I’ve heard there is some type of funding available for rotations where the student would need to live/stay away from home. What is this, who is it from, how does it work?
You are able to receive a housing stipend IF the rotation is somewhere rural. AHEC would contact you-which your regional coordinator will inform you about if you qualify. AHEC will pay or you can receive a specific cash amount ($500) to reimburse you after your rotation is over.
Some out of region rotations have housing or housing stipend given by AHEC. They will email you letting you know when the due dates are.
I don’t know the details, but yes there is one through a program at SUU, however it is only for locations that the program providing the funding deems “rural”. At RVU the Cache region is considered a rural region, however Logan is not considered rural through the program providing the funding. So, just because RVU says you are in a rural region, it doesn’t mean you will qualify for the ($500, i think) for the month that the program provides. If they don’t give you money to find a place, they provide you with one (again, just for the areas the SUU program deems rural).
This would be AHEC. They provide housing for students in rural communities . It saved us a lot of money, but there are a few catches. They don’t get to choose where they live. For instance, one time my husband was in a basement apartment with another student, and that was great. Another time, he was staying with a single ER nurse. He had his own room, shared kitchen, and own bathroom...but the bathroom was on the 3rd floor next to her bedroom. It was fine, and she was interesting, but you get the idea. The other option is to set up your own housing, and then at the end of the rotation you get a 500 dollar stipend from them. We thought we would do that more, but it is hard to find housing for a whole month for 500 dollars. You also still have to pay for food and gas. Lots to consider, but we are really grateful for the program.
Question: What are the important dates during 3rd year (i.e. when to register for tests, VSAS open dates, costs of tests)?
Total cost $2800 for exams
Costs of tests: $1,300 for your PE, $650 for COMLEX 2. Registration for both opens 6 months prior to the test date (if you want to take level 2 in June you need to start looking for dates and make payment in January). VSAS open dates vary a lot. Start looking in December/January depending on the program you’re looking into.
Costs of tests are HIGH. Second year you pay like $2600 I believe and it will be closer to 4/5k for 3rd year since the tests are just as expensive and you have to fly to either Pittsburgh or Chicago to take them (2 day tests) and pay for hotel/rental car/Uber, etc.
This is the crazy sauce part, because there is SO much to know. I don’t know all the dates, all I know that the tests were SO expensive. They have to fly to either Chicago or Pennsylvania for the in person test, so add room and board to that too. VSAS, in our experience, tends to open more sub-I spots in the the spring. My husband was active in reaching out to programs he was interested in, and a lot of them sent him applications. He had a lot set up by January. Also, it totally depends on specialty. We are hoping for emergency medicine, and there is a while other process I had to learn for just that residency. It is a LOT of research, and it is so dependent upon your personal situation. For official dates, I think the school would have to be more prepared. It felt like they said not to worry about anything, and then all of a sudden all these things needed to be done. At least, that is how it felt.
Question: Is third year better or worse than 1st and 2nd? Why?
Better, we are able to spend more time together as a family
Better! We don’t have the build up of stress with one or more tests/week. I feel like my SO’s mental health is so much better.
It’s a yes and no answer. Depending on the rotation you may get a little extra time with you S.O. Other rotations you may not see them very often because of the rotation or they just have to study lots. Another good thing is there aren’t as many tests.
WAY BETTER! They don’t have to study nearly as much, and to me, it just felt like they were at a normal job every day. Most weekends my husband had off and really only had to study for a couple of hours on some of the weekends (as opposed to every waking hour — HELLO Monday exams! I do not miss those!!)
"Overall, 3rd year has been better than the 1st and 2nd year for me. My husband isn't as stressed, I see him more often and he doesn't have the weight of all of the tests the first two year of medical school bring (and not to mention studying for Step1!!). I almost felt like I could breathe a little again once 3rd year started.
The only downside for us, which is actually a pretty big downside, is moving away from St. George and the support system/friends we had there. We've really missed everyone and not having people constantly around you who know what you're going through has been hard for sure. We try to get together as often as possible, but it's just not the same as it was when we all lived within 10 minutes of each other!"
Overall, better, but mostly just different. Some rotations are super chill and you see your student way more often. Some rotations are super intense, so it tends to be stressful for everyone. Some preceptors are awesome, and others are jerks. It is mostly a year of being on your toes because it is hard to know what is coming next. Every 4-8 weeks, it is another “first day” and so it is easier if you can be flexible with expectations and such.
Again I think this depends on your husband and how he handles things. Overall for us I think it’s been better. He’s definitely home more on most rotations but it’s been really stressful applying for audition rotations and figuring all that out.
Question: What is the schedule like during 3rd year?
1/2 days on days student has didactics
A few rotations have been 4 days a week (Typically Thursday’s off)
Hours vary, each rotation is 4-8 weeks with a shelf exam at the end of each rotation. Each Doctor will have different expectations as far as hours are concerned.
Different for everyone, but basically a full time job.
It will be different for everyone, because their schedule depends on the schedule of the doctors they are rotating with. And every 4 weeks when they start a new rotation they will have a new schedule. You still get most of the normal holiday breaks though as well.
It changes all the time depending on which doctor they're with, so it this is a hard question to answer. I would say that most of my husband's preceptors only worked 4-day weeks, minus a select few who worked 5 days. He even had a doctor that was 10-days on, 6-days off. So it really just depends on the doctor and their own schedule! He only had to go in on Saturdays/Sundays a few times, but I would say for the most part he had most weekends off.
It totally depends on the rotation schedule. Also, your original schedule will change. Ours changed at least 5 times, so take it with a grain of salt. It is a good idea to consider what electives they’d like to do so that there’s enough time to find one. Some away rotations my husband could try home on weekends, others he couldn’t, so it really depends on the rotation and the preceptor.
Varies with every rotation and every doctor. You work whatever your doctor works. There is an exam at the end of every rotation.
Question: Which rotation is the easiest? Which is the hardest?
This will vary a ton depending on each preceptor.
Depends on how good your preceptor is and what you excel in. In general, internal medicine is the hardest shelf and requires the most studying.
Depends on your student! They will thrive in the subjects/specialties they are interested in, and may struggle in others that really challenge them. However, some of the harder shelf exams are Peds, Internal Med and Surgery!
Honestly, none of them have been has awful as I thought they were going to be-- even surgery-- and it really just depends on the doctor! Peds was only 4 days a week, 9am-5pm. His current Family Med is 4 days a week and leaves on time, but his previous was 5 days a week and got home late almost every day. OBGYN had long days, but only worked 4 days a week. Surgery was 5 days a week and had really early mornings, but would often get off around 3-4 (minus the few times he had to stay really late). Overall, Peds was probably easiest and surgery was hardest-- but again, I was pleasantly surprised that none of them were as bad as I thought!
In our experience, psych was easy when it came to hours, but was super slow and boring for my husband...internal med was intense for us. We haven’t done surgery yet. The others were all ok.
Depends on your doctor, for us family was the best schedule and I think easiest for my husband and surgery was the hardest schedule but I know it’s been different for other people.
Question: What other requirements exist outside of the shelf exams?
Scheduling/Planning 4th year
Studying, scheduling step 2 exams, a million surveys from the school
20 OMT cases and didactics which are usually once a week.
I think they have some OPP credits they have to accomplish, but I’m not sure outside of that.
Weekly 2-hour lecture (live online lecture with a professor). VSAS application. It would be really good to do some sort of volunteering or some sort of leadership -- it looks great for residencies.
My husband had a lot of presentations he had to be prepared for. His preceptors would give him a topic, and then he would have to present the next day. Also, the pimping can get intense. For some preceptors, it wasn’t stressful at all, and for others, my husband felt like he needed to be more prepared. I guess it is all part of the process, but I don’t love it.
Some doctors require you to do projects, you have to do some opp requirements, and there’s classes once a week during each rotation.
Question: How did you start preparing in 3rd year for 4th year?
We still are, keeping up with finances, communicating with student and reading posts on lives of doctor wives fcbk page about 4th year
Letters of recommendation, personal statements, researching programs (making spreadsheets) and we are still preparing.
RESEARCH! Start looking for programs that they would be interested in, looking at minimum test scores for application, program directors, what the programs care about, etc. I also love the Lives of Doctors Wives page on FB... there is a lot of useless information but also a lot of gems as well.
Start saving money ASAP. Start looking into different residency programs or audition rotations.
Spreadsheets!! Spreadsheets for budgeting, spreadsheets for residency programs. Figuring out what specialty wanted was stressful, but once we decided, we really buckled down and started looking at residency programs. Google became my best friend.
Question: How much does the student need to study outside of their rotation?
2 hours a day plus free time in clinic
This is highly dependent on each student, I would say that they should be studying daily
Depends on the rotation and your S.O.
That is going to differ for every student, but my husband doesn’t study nearly as much for his shelf exams as he did in school and has done well on all of them so far.
My husband is a go getter, but he studied about 3-4 hours a day outside of his rotations. Some of that is for shelf, some of that is for boards. If he had days off from a rotation, he would usually use the bulk of that to study. The difference is that he can take small breaks to hang out, and then go back to it. The week leading up to a shelf exam, we don’t see him a lot. But I honestly have NO idea how much other students study.
Question: When setting up your own rotation are there places off limits?
This will change with each year and something to talk to your advisors and coordinators about.
Not that I know of! There used to be, but now it seems wide open
Question: What is the best part of 3rd year?
The extra time spent with family.
Seeing my student doctor come home smiling and excited about what they are doing and learning.
For the student (At least mine) seeing patients and not sitting at a desk all the time. For me hearing about all the experiences they are having and seeing them find what’s going to make them happy and fulfilled.
For me, it was seeing my husband blossom! He hated being stuck in a chair at a desk studying all day, but now he gets to do what he is good at all day every day and he comes home so much happier!
Seeing your student thrive in a clinical environment. It is comforting that the last two years were worth it, and that he’s excited for the future.
Question: What is the hardest part of 3rd year?
Not all preceptors communicate well even when the student makes a point to communicate well to them.
Not being able to plan ahead sometimes not even a week ahead because you don’t know you S.O.’s schedule. Also gen surg was hard for me. I never saw my husband. Sometimes he would leave at 6am and come home at 12am.
Different schedules every 4 weeks, not having all the rotations set up, and stressing about 4th year 😂
All the change. Not knowing what is next. Not having a community of people that help you know and feel like your life is normal. Being around a real world of people who don’t understand this journey. Nights when they’re away! Which is why I’m answering these things at 1:00 in the morning! (I have no idea who is reading this, but I’m hoping it Miranda 😘, I’m getting loopier with each question)
Question: What are other things you think future 3rd students should know?
Enjoy the time off you have with your student and do your best to support each other through another transition in this journey.
Embrace change! Good luck!
Have fun and go with the flow! This is such a fun year for the students to learn and grow and discover the kind of physician they want to be!
If your student can, it's a great idea for them to get involved in leadership (especially on a national level) with different clubs/organizations. It can open up so many opportunities that they might not otherwise have. It creates a lot of networking and connections, which often can get you in the door somewhere regardless of your board scores or grades.
You can do it? Haha! It feels so bumpy so much of the time, but find something you love for you. I work out to keep me sane, and read lots of books that can give me a break from reality. I have learned patience in my single-parenting life, and take lots of deep breaths. Check in with your friends. We are all struggling with similar things, but in different cities. We still need each other, even if it is to tell each other this journey sucks. Ask how they’re doing and remind them that you get it. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, because it won’t last forever. For as many hard moments that there are, better ones will come...which is totally cliche, but I can help it. Do your best, and (apparently) it will be worth it someday. 😉