Away rotations/visiting student rotations are clinical rotations or non-clinical rotations that occur outside of your medical school. They can be in the form of a sub-internship, elective or various clinical rotations. In order to participate in one of these opportunities you must be in your last year of medical school and/or fulfilled all your required clerkship rotations at your home institution. It is not mandatory that you participate in one, but highly recommended if you are:
A.) Going into a competitive specialty (Orthopedic Surgery, Dermatology, Radiology, ENT, Plastic Surgery etc).
B.) You have a specific region you are dying to go to (example: California) or a specific program you really want to get into.
C.) You want to travel and stay in a new location and experience a different hospital from your home institution.
Away rotations are designed to see how well you perform as a potential intern. You want to do your very best, because essentially it’s an audition. You want to work super hard by being the first one there, last one to leave, do task without being told and truly be a rockstar! It will be a month of you being “on.” You want to remain professional and show your skills! Away rotations can really make or break you, so before applying you should sit down with mentors/advisors and discuss if the benefits outweigh the risk for you to do an away rotation. Away rotations can really be rewarding and some programs even give you a guarantee interview while there, just make sure it’s right for you.
Additionally, depending on where you do your away rotation, you have to keep in mind the cost that you will incur. There are a lot of things you should consider; location, flight, housing and travel while in that respective city. Great resources for housing include family members homes, friends couches and also an excellent resource is rotating room, it’s a safe and excellent way to find housing at varying cost created just for medical students.
Lastly, it is also worth it to see if the specific program you are wanting to apply to has scholarships to help with housing and travel. Many programs have scholarships for underrepresented minorities in medicine, so take that extra step to see if this is an option.
Now on to the nitty gritty…..How to apply
You want to apply through VSLO (recently known as VSAS):
I would recommend speaking with your home institution about the logistics. I also recommend going onto the website once you have access and exploring and seeing what each program requires.
- The best time to apply is usually in February when VSLO opens, but be mindful that you have to receive an access code from your home institution. The earlier you apply of course the better.
- General requirements: Immunization forms, professional headshot, personal statement, CV, Transcript, LORs, etc. Remember take a look at each program that you want to apply to and see their specific requirements and get right on it, because forms like your immunization records and letters of recommendation may take longer than you expect to complete.
- The best time to complete an away rotation is up to you and your specific goals for each program. Be mindful about your home institutions schedule and blocks because they may not align with other programs block schedules and you may have to do some adjusting.
My tips to shine on your away rotation:
- Take initiative, complete task before being told to do so!
- Work hard, be the first one there and the last one to leave!
- Read as much as you can. Read any material that they tell you to read and always read and prepare for procedures that occur the next day or that week!
- Take ownership of your patients- triage, round, present and write notes on your patients and really know everything you can about your patient!
- Always contribute to the team and help out as much as you can, you don’t want everyone to feel like you are a burden, but rather an asset.
- Constantly ask for feedback and continue to improve!
- Stay optimistic and do your best!
I had the pleasure of participating in an away rotation as a sub-intern. My experience was amazing and exceeded my expectations! Feel free to message me and I can share more about my experience!