Medical Elective: Little Details on Arrival

First thing of course is to settle in, unpack the luggage and hang up the shirts and ties. That’s all part and parcel of traveling.

So the first thing is to head to the medical office of the university you’ve applied to. Probably there’ll be an office where one can speak to the electives officer one applied to and likely communicated via email/telephone with over the past few months. Then, it’s time to settle a few things.

1. Reporting time, venue and person

A teaching hospital is affiliated with the university, but any particular department in hospital isn’t completely part of the university. Therefore, one has to also report to the particular office/physician of the hospital in question. Particularly in surgical disciplines, the first contact may very well be in the morning ward rounds around 6.30am.

Dress neatly (for men, long-sleeved shirt, tie, dress pants, labcoat). Bring along a cup of coffee (e.g. from Tim Horton’s, if in Ontario, Canada) for the registrar/chief resident/consultant. It never hurts to make a good first impression.

Oh, and try to meet the mentor/supervisor as soon as possible.

2. Scrubs

Mostly for the surgical disciplines but also for being on call. Some places have scrub machines which’ll require a sum of money as collateral to keep one honest. That’ll mean finding out the locations of the scrub machines/collection points and the scrubs office (and their opening hours).

3. Pagers/Handphones

These are obtained either at a central office or from the respective department one reports to. They usually require collateral again, such as a check for CA$150 marked out to the university that they won’t cash unless one fails to return the pager/handphone.

4. University Student Pass

Usually different from the nametags worn in the hospital, these university passes will allow borrowing of books in the medical library or access to the university gym. These should be applied from at the university and not the hospital. Remember well the number, it’ll be useful to write it down in the patient charts so that nurses can contact you.

6. Pass codes and location of resident and call rooms

MImportant to have a place to dump one’s gear and catch a bit of shut-eye during night calls.

7. Teaching schedule and locations

There are two kinds of teachings: medical student ones and departmental teachings. Sometimes these can be found online, sometimes it takes a bit of asking and keeping one’s eyes peeled to find out. For instance, while posted to Neurosurgery, one could attend General Surgery teachings with the local students, it being more pertinent for the exams. However, one should not forgo departmental teachings for “extra” teachings.

8. Coffee and granola bar source

Energy for the clinical clerk on the go. Enough said.


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