Your academic curriculum in the medical school is divided into two aspects: the first involves long hours of classroom learning. Basically, everything learned here is theoretical and no clinicals are done. The second part involves hands-on experience. It is the clinical aspect where you get a chance to experience physical aspects of medicine which is the externship program. Everything you learn here is of immense value as it prepares you for the practice of the profession. What you've learned will also be valuable in later years of medical school and future job placement. For International Medical Graduates, the externship program gives you the clinical experience required for succeeding in the residency program.
You may be wondering, how do I succeed in my externship? Well, here are a few tips that may help:
It is normal to get nervous when you find yourself in a new setting or environment. But this should not be the case as a medical intern. There is a need for you to show your true potentials. Never allow nervousness to result in a mistake. You're in a clinic with healthcare professionals willing to show you all you need to know. Exuding confidence will put the mind of your patient at ease. On the other hand, being nervous and confused will scare them.
There's nothing wrong with being inquisitive
As a healthcare professional, you are entrusted with the lives of human beings. As an intern, it is your first time of bearing such responsibility. Try as much as you can to ask questions where you are confused. If you refuse to ask questions, and then go on to make mistakes out of ignorance, you are endangering the lives of others. Write down all relevant points so you can refer to them later. Your externship is your chance to test your technical skills, and you need all the information you can get. Ask questions if you do not understand. If you make a mistake, ask for help, and you'll receive the necessary correction.
Professionalism is key
The first impression you make matters a lot. Try to do things right and be professional in everything you do. Let your code of conduct speak well of you. Your relationship with your co-workers and instructors should be near perfect. Most importantly, be polite and courteous to your patients. Go to work on time, dress professionally, and show respect to all in the hospital environment. Being organized can bolster your success in your externship.
Utilize your externship period very well
Your externship lasts for 4-8 weeks; that's roughly one to two months. This is a short time to gain clinical experience. Every second of the day is precious so try not to waste it. Do not sit around and wait to be called upon. Get all your responsibilities completed on time and be proactive about checking on your patients. Note that the way things are done in the United States hospital may be the same as you were taught in the classroom. However, physicians and nurses may do things a little differently, so be ready to learn and to adapt. Always ask questions and righteously follow the protocol.
Know your patient
This cannot be overemphasized. Adequate diagnosis and subsequent treatment rely significantly on the information passed down to the physician by the patient. So you need to obtain as much information as you can from your patient. Try to work as a team with the doctors and nurses there. The welfare and comfort of your patient should be of utmost priority.