HealthNovember 04, 2015

Preparing for your family medicine rotation

Your family medicine clerkship is a rotation unlike any other in terms of the day-to-day experience (and, unfortunately, the final exam—more on than later). Unlike other rotations, in family medicine rotations you are paired up with a family practitioner and spend all day, every day of the rotation working right alongside her/him.

Odds are you will spend more time with that attending than all other attendings of your core clerkships combined. In most schools, you are matched with physicians in surrounding rural areas and might even end up living there during the week. This is a unique opportunity to experience rural medicine.

Every family medicine doctor runs a different type of practice. Some have training in obstetrics and gynecology and may even deliver babies. Others may have some surgical experience and perform procedures regularly, such as incision and drainage. Still others may have training in dermatology or may see pediatric patients, in addition to adults. Talk to your family medicine clerkship coordinator or director to see if they can match you up with a preceptor who practices in a setting and a sub-specialty that interests you. And be sure to share your interests with your preceptor—they’ll help you gain experience.

Preparing for your family medicine shelf exam

When using Firecracker, the following is a list of topics that we recommend you flag as “current” at the beginning of your rotation:

Family medicine topics

These are the most high yield topics, so we suggest you add more topics as you see them in clinic or as you read about them.

As far as other study resources, none of the review books are noted as being head and shoulders above the rest, but here are the most commonly used:

  • Case Files Family Medicine: probably the most recommended
  • Blueprints Family Medicine
  • Pretest Family Medicine

In addition, there is a question bank on the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) website. All medical students can become members for free, but approval takes a few days, so sign up early. However, the questions are bit out of date and can test more specific points of diagnosis and treatment.

As with every rotation, be enthusiastic, be on time, and never say no if your preceptor asks you to do something. And be sure to talk to fellow M3s and M4s to get the real low down of the different preceptors and sites. Good luck and have fun!

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