Tips for a great hospital rotation experience

As a prevocational doctor in the hospital setting or a student preparing to graduate, it’s easy to be occupied with the usual duties of caring for too many patients and constantly being paged. Often there is little time left to think about how your hospital experience can help you as a GP in the future.

Here are our top tips to help you make the most of your hospital experience.

Find out who is who

Identify people who may be good sources of information when you are working in the community, such as hospital registrars, consultants and clinical nurse consultants.

Choose your rotations

Choose rotations that will give you experience with common GP-managed conditions. General rotations, such as general medicine and general surgery, may be more relevant than super-specialised placements.

Emergency medicine rotations are always a great opportunity to experience a wide range of presentations and to learn acute care skills, timely management and referral. Any experience with skin, ears and eyes will stand you in good stead. Mental health and women’s health are also big parts of general practice.

Fine-tune your practical skills

Ask nurses to teach you skills, such as administering vaccinations (especially to children) and dressing wounds. Ensure you can place common types of plaster casts with confidence.

Pick up useful procedural skill

Learn procedural skills that may be useful in general practice: joint aspirations and injections, excision of cysts and skin lesions.

Be curious about management decisions

In addition to the acute management decisions you will have made in the hospital setting, as a GP, you will also be initiating and monitoring long-term management of chronic conditions. Talk to your consultants and registrars about up-to-date guidelines and approaches to chronic disease management.

Hone your writing skills

Take particular notice of writing comprehensive and prompt discharge summaries, and don’t be afraid to call GPs to tell them that their patients are coming home.

Learn the art of referral

Think about what information is pertinent on a referral letter sent with a patient to the emergency department. Discuss the referral process with consultants. What do they like in a referral? What tests should be ordered prior to the referral? How urgently do they need to see particular cases?

Your hospital years

Thriving during your hospital years and preparing for general practice