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In medical education, a clerkship, or rotation, refers to the practice of medicine by medical students (M.D., D.O., D.P.M) during their final year(s) of study. Traditionally, the first half of medical school trains students in the classroom setting, and the second half takes place in a teaching hospital. Clerkships give students experiences in all parts of the hospital setting, including the operating room, emergency department, and various other departments that allow learning by viewing and doing.
Students are required to undergo a pre-clerkship course, which include introduction to clinical medicine, clinical skills, and clinical reasoning. A performance assessment such as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is conducted at the end of this period. During the clerkship training, students are required to rotate through different medical specialties and treat patients under the supervision of physicians. Students elicit patient histories, complete physical examinations, write progress notes, and assist in surgeries and medical procedures. The work hours are that of a full-time job, generally similar to that of residents. Students may also be required to work on weekends and to be on call. For medical students, clerkships occur after the basic science curriculum, and are supervised by medical specialists at a teaching hospital or medical school. Typically, certain clerkships are required to obtain the Doctor of Medicine degree or the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree in the United States (e.g., internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics), while others are elective (e.g., dermatology, pathology, and neurology).
The intent of the clinical clerkship is to teach the medical student the fundamentals of clinical examination, evaluation, and care provision, and to enable the student to select the course of further study. Another purpose of the clerkship is for the student to determine if they really want to pursue a career in the field of medicine. During the clinical clerkship, the medical student will interact with real patients much as a physician does, but their evaluation and recommendations will be reviewed and approved by more senior physicians. The expectation is that the students will not only master the knowledge in successfully treating patients but they are also expected to assume the physician's role.
In the United States, medical school typically lasts four years. Medical students spend the third and fourth years rotating through a combination of required clerkship and electives. Most medical schools require rotations in internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, radiology, and neurology. Some schools additionally require emergency medicine and intensive-care medicine. Furthermore, a common graduation requirement is to complete a sub-internship in a specialty, where the medical student acts as an intern.
- "Clinical clerkship". UNM Course Type Glossary. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Pangaro, Louis; McGaghie, William (2015). Handbook on Medical Student Evaluation and Assessment. North Syracuse, NY: Gegensatz Press. p. 53. ISBN 9781621307303.
- Freeman, Brian (2007). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty, Second Edition. New York: McGraw Hill Professional. p. 8. ISBN 9780071479417.
- Wiese, Jeff (2006). Clinical Clerkships: The Answer Book. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 4. ISBN 0781737540.
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