OK, lots of great inspiring comments from yesterdays plea for ideas. I’ll tackle this one first, because a bright enthusiastic medical student would really brighten up my service! Here is a question from Inspire:

How about tips for med students to not drive interns and attendings crazy?

Great question, inspire! My answer, and my advice to you, is not always what I practiced during medical school, although there are certainly many rotations where I put my all into it.

First off, residents like to have fun, nice people around. It helps if your bright and intelligent also, but knowledge is by no means a prime criteria for being a good medical student. Far from it, the reason you are there is to learn, right? You’re most important job is to learn and taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of your residents and attendings is entirely up to you to take advantage of. Residents like students who are pleasand and easy going, because just about every other health professional they have to deal with during the day is bitter and resentful.

Being willing to do your share of the work is important too, and probalby where I fell short as a student. It’s easy to feel frustrated and feel like the work you are doing does not really matter to the team or contribute to patient care, but the more initiative you take to learn everything about your patient and write notes on them, the more you will learn about medicine while still helping everyone out. Team spirit is important…if you don’t get along with yoru team, the month will be miserable. Complaining is a no-no, because no matter how much work you are doing, the intern is doing more and doesn’t have a choice about it so he won’t have much sympathy. On the other hand, we were all students once, and for the most part, we all like to see a hard working student go home at a reasonable hour to come back and provide us with refreshing perspective the next day.

Some students are nervious nellies, constantly trying to impress. THis is unnecessary and a little unattractive. Some studets are easily intimidated and fearful to answer questions. There is no need for this either. Students who are bold and confident in sharing their thought processes with the attendings and residents provide themselves with more opportunities for learning, especially if you are wrong! If you don’t share your thought process, there is no way for the residents to know where to start teaching you. On the other hand, if you clam up and say you don’t know this, that or the other thing, even if you have an idea or two, you are missing a valuable opportunity to add to your knowledge. You’ll probably get a snide directive to “look that up and present it to us in the morning.”

When I have a third year medical student with me, I could care less how much work they do. If they are eager to accompany me to see patients and trouble shoot patient problems giving me an excuse to teach, it makes me happy.

If you are naturally eager to learn about medicine and take the opportunity to follow a particular patient through, learn their issues, ask why your team wants certain tests and studies, and practicies focusing your morning presentation to convey an accurate picture of the patient’s condition, important labs and physical condition, you’re on your way to a great rotation for the month!

Hope that helps, and thanks for the inspiration, Inspire!