Pediatric Rotation / Clerkship: How to Survive It

I had this after my OB/GYN rotation. And honestly, the pediatric rotation was a breath of fresh air, literally. (No pelvic stench, hooray!) I enjoyed treating children who were a bit older — 6 years old and up. Some of them were so cute and I wanted to pinch their cheeks. (Man, I can feel my testosterone going down just from that previous sentence.) I didn’t feel comfortable with neonates and babies though. In my future practice, I’m not sure if I will treat babies or not. Right now, I’m leaning towards no.

My Experience with Pediatric Rotation

I spent roughly 4 weeks in a large community hospital (in the general pediatric ward and in the emergency pediatric ward). In this particular hospital, the pediatricians work in 12 hour shifts, 3 or 4 times a week. Most of the time was spent in the emergency pediatric ward. Regardless, by now, you should have a good idea of what any rotation is like. You check up on the patient, write a short note, and report to the doctor regarding what you have found.

Because the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) — a well-known and highly-rated children’s hospital — was close by, there were not many patients with rare illnesses. Most of them are typical — cough, URI, fever, possible fracture, etc. Therefore, it wasn’t very busy either. There were times when hours went by with nothing to do.

One of my most memorable experience in the hospital was during my first day of the rotation. A baby stayed over night because she had a spiked fever. The fever improved the next day and she was going to be discharged. The grandmother was adamant about giving the baby antibiotics, while the attending refused to do so. The cause of the transient fever was from a virus, not a bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics were not needed. The grandmother was hollering and threatening to sue. And the attending stood his ground, as cool as a cucumber. The way the doctor handled the hostility really won my respect for him.

I then spent 2 weeks in an outpatient pediatric clinic. I liked the clinic more than the hospital. There was more to do and I got to work with the attending 1-on-1.

The clinic’s staff were really nice. During Thanksgiving week, the clinic had a holiday lunch. Most places would have sent the medical students home before having their feast. Instead, the staff members invited me and the other medical student to join them in their Thanksgiving lunch. Even retired doctors came by and join us for lunch. In a sense, it felt like eating with one big family: children (medical students), adults (staff), and elders (retired doctors).

How to Get Through Pediatric Rotation in One Piece

There really isn’t much to say about surviving this rotation because it is really chill. Go in, do your work, and study. If you start studying for the shelf exam halfway through the rotation, you should be fine.

Books for Pediatrics

Pediatrics is a big part of COMLEX. That means any high-quality Step 2 review book should be sufficient to prepare for the shelf exam (COMAT). I used three main books to study for the exam:

You may ask, “Why get Master the Boards USMLE Step 2 CK and Master the Boards USMLE Step 3?” Good question. Yes, there are much overlap between the two books. However, there are topics that one books has that the other lacks (and vice versa). For example, MTB 2 does not have developmental milestones, while MTB 3 does. With both books, you should be prepared for pretty much any high-yield topics.

Overall, this rotation is very straight forward. You shouldn’t have any problems.

This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.

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