The movement from pre-clinical to clinical years can be a daunting time for all students. You’ve been attending lectures, laying foundations in basic science and sleeping in most mornings. It’s student life. Suddenly, you’re being asked to get up at the crack of dawn, traipse on a never ending ward round and get quizzed endlessly on topics you don’t know. Welcome to clinical years.
Traditionally, the clinical transition describes the period when students move from lectures and classroom-based learning to learning ‘on the job’ in the clinical environment. This time point depends on the university, but is usually after your second or third year of studies. It is often met with feeling unprepared, working long hours and having uncertainty about your role. However, we’re here to reassure you it’s not that bad!
It requires a lot more self-motivation and self-directed learning, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have the freedom to learn about a whole manner of topics you see in clinical practice. Remember, it’s our experiences as healthcare professionals, not necessarily our knowledge, that makes us excellent clinicians.
Here’s three messages for anyone entering clinical years!
Prepare for change - The knowledge you’ve been gaining in your pre-clinical years is your foundation to build skills in clinical reasoning and problem solving. Have your history and examination skills down to a tee. Your ability to talk to patients, take a good history and perform an examination is what you’ll be assessed on time and time again.
Expect a difference - The hours will be longer and it’ll be tough initially. That’s okay! You’ll get used to the vocational style of learning. Remember you’re there to learn. If you’re not getting a good learning experience, say! If you’re hour 5 into a ward round, question how beneficial it is! You’re the master of your own learning and time-management.
Take your opportunities - This is your chance to gain as much experience as possible. Take your opportunities, learn from everyone and really discover what happens in healthcare. Assess as many patients as possible. Seeing and discussing patients is your main source of learning. Use it!
The transition is actually a really exciting time and you’ll finally feel like you’re gaining knowledge and skills to treat patients, enjoy it!
Our top tips:
Make the MOST of each placement - Some placements may be the only chance you get to experience a speciality!
ASK questions - Each placement is YOUR chance to learn. Ask questions, people love talking about their specialty.
HISTORY and EXAMINATION are key - It’s so, so important you can take an excellent history and perform an examination. Practice, practice, practice.
Don’t WORRY about clinical skills - Bloods and ABGs cause a lot of anxiety but these skills come with time! A proper history and examination is far more important than an ABG.