What do medical students expect to learn during their clinical rotation?

Clinical rotations refer to the practicing of medicine by medical students under the supervision of an experienced senior physician. They are known by different names, including clinical training, clinical clerkships, clinicals, etc.  Clinical rotations take place during the final two years of a student’s medical education and are a final phase.

Students get the opportunity to work directly in clinics and hospitals and learn real-life patient treatment under the guidance and supervision of their senior practitioner. It gives them the real idea of what a doctor’s life is going to be like. Students get the opportunity to directly interact with the patients and be involved in patient care, something books can’t teach. While clinical rotations are extremely challenging but also the most rewarding part of MD when students discover interests in more specialized topics.

Clinical rotations help students make a transition from the world of academics to the world of real-life medicine. This is the only chance a student gets in their life when a mistake can be overlooked and they can be guided in solving cases by superiors and experts. Clinical rotations bring students from classrooms to the field.

How Are Clinical Rotations Different From The Rest Of The Medical Education?

The first 3 years of medical school education in an MD will be spent in classrooms and learning chiefly from books, labs, seminars, etc. or the conventional ways of learning a curriculum. Whereas, in clinical rotations, a medical student spends time more as a trainee, shadowing experienced doctors in a clinic setting and observing how patients are treated. Clinics train medical students with hands-on experience of physicians and make them better doctors. Students in rotations learn all sorts of skills starting from nursing skills to surgeries etc. Clinical rotations are not a different type of training. It is very much a part of medical education itself.

Types Of Clinical Rotations

Considering both optional and mandatory clinical rotations, they can be largely divided into two categories – Core rotations & Elective rotations.

Core rotations are compulsory for every medical student to undergo. The subjects or topics of rotations may vary from one school to another.

Core Rotation Topics

Internal Medicine
Family medicine
Obstetrics or Gynecology
General Surgery


Elective Rotations

These are special rotations, and optional for med students. Depending on the school one goes to, some elective rotations may even be part of core medical rotations. While there is a large and varied list of elective rotations, let’s take a look at a few.

Emergency medicine
Infectious diseases
Oncology & Hematology

There are many more options other than the ones listed above, and a lot of them depend on the institute you opt to study.

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