Posted on: June 20, 2023 Posted by: Zack Wang Comments: 0

Clinical rotations, also known as clerkships, are among the most essential requirements during any med student’s education. They provide hands-on experience at healthcare sites, allowing the student to become more familiar with core medicine and eventually find their specialty of choice. At the same time, clinical rotations are opportunities for preceptors to evaluate and guide students. 

In order for medical students to get the most out of their clinical rotations, they must learn how to carry themselves both inside and outside of the healthcare facility. Understanding what mistakes to avoid is just as crucial as knowing which practices are beneficial. It will help students as they look to begin successful medical careers. 

As an international medical school, Saint James School of Medicine aims to assist future healthcare providers across the world as they approach and conduct their clinical rotations. We’ll discuss some vital mistakes to avoid in clinical rotations so students can maximize their experiences.

Failure to Communicate

As is true in so many careers, communication is essential to success. Communicating with peers, patients, and preceptors fosters more productive environments. Without communication, small mistakes can quickly turn into costly disasters.

As stepping stones toward a medical career, clinical rotations necessitate open communication with others. Medical students must converse with other students, the doctors, and nurses at whichever sites they’re providing care at, and the preceptors in charge of evaluating their performance and growth. Strong communication skills allow everyone within the healthcare facility to remain on the same page, leading to better care for patients.

Not Enough Initiative

Initiative is also vital to a clinical rotation, as it demonstrates the student’s willingness and eagerness to put their best foot forward. Initiative involves seizing each opportunity, being proactive in building relationships, and showing that the student truly values their time at the healthcare site. Preceptors will notice those who show they want to learn and succeed. 

Medical students who fall short during their clinical rotations are often too reserved or scared of temporary failure. They stand back and watch instead of learning from mistakes early on in their rotations. They must have the courage and confidence to ask questions when confused, discuss and organize with other students, and become leaders who seek to get the most out of their experiences. 

Lack of Effort and Preparation

Effort and preparation go hand in hand. During their clinical rotations, a medical student must make an effort to be prepared every day. This requires significant time as well as engagement in their day-to-day education.

When a student doesn’t prepare or put in enough effort, it is typically due to a lack of interest. Because there are so many different types of medicine and various aspects within each one, it’s unlikely that every rotation will appeal to a student. They may come across a particular specialty that simply is not for them and therefore believe they shouldn’t put as much work into it.

However, the student must do their best to remain engaged, specifically with the core rotations. Even if the specific subject doesn’t interest them, the hands-on experience will eventually prove useful. Each specialty ties into the others, so gaining the knowledge of each will help the student become a more well-rounded and successful healthcare provider. 

Poor Attitude

A student’s attitude will largely determine their level of success during clinical rotations; a poor attitude can lead to failure. A relatively common mistake among medical students is a sense of entitlement or taking the experience for granted. Becoming part of a healthcare team that helps and serves others on a daily basis is an opportunity, so each student must view their clinical rotations as such.

A poor attitude can also involve not being able to take constructive criticism. Clinical rotations will test medical students, and most will fail from time to time. However, those who can take feedback from their preceptors and quickly learn from their mistakes will ultimately find the most success. Those who push back, cannot accept any criticism, or think they know more than their preceptors demonstrate the wrong attitudes and won’t have successful clinical rotations.

Finally, a poor attitude can take the shape of a student believing the bare minimum is enough. Each clinical rotation, even medical school for that matter, is centered around involvement. Choosing not to go the extra mile and take the necessary steps to maximize the experience typically results in failure. 


To recap, clinical rotations require constant communication with preceptors and peers, the willingness to take initiative, effort and preparation that demonstrate the student is giving their best, and a positive attitude. Lacking any of these is a significant mistake that can disrupt the entire experience. 

For more information from an accredited medical school, explore the Saint James School of Medicine blog or call us today at 800-542-1553. 

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