10 Tips for Your Clinical Year

May 12, 2014

By JJ Jenkins

If someone gives you a helping hand, it’s only fitting to pay it forward. Over the past year of clinicals, people have handed me nuggets of wisdom that I use every day.

I’ve compiled those nuggets into a short list:

1. Know when you don’t know. Recognizing this and accepting it is a mark of maturity in life and in medicine.

2. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Don’t rush to impress someone. When you screw up, the first thing they’ll say is, “You should have taken your time.”

3. Get outside your comfort zone. You’ll never get better standing with your hands in your pockets.

4. Listen to your patients and your preceptors. The moment you forget to listen to both, you’re in trouble.

5. “Sir” and “ma’am” and “please” and “thank you” will get you a long way. And if all else fails, the first rule of surgery is, “Always compliment the attending surgeon.” – Gary Sweet, MD.

6. Don’t say, “I am just a physician assistant student.” If you don’t respect yourself and your potential to learn, neither will the patients or preceptors.

7. Keep a pen, a pair of gloves and scratch paper on you at all times. They’ll often come in handy.

8. Never turn down the chance to network. Maybe that connection won’t work out for you, but it may help a classmate.

9. Don’t burn bridges this early in the game. Speaking ill of co-workers is like eating a ghost pepper. It’ll catch up with you.

10. “Remember you are in the best position in your life to ask questions. Once you graduate the expectations of you are different. Don’t miss this opportunity.” – Irina Selezneva, MD

And with that, I end my career as a PA student. I hope you’ve enjoyed my writing on PAs Connect and in PA Professional magazine.

Best of luck to those starting their didactic year and entering clinicals.

For those graduating: You’re almost there! Godspeed.

Keep it classy, Class of 2015. May our paths cross again, and often.

John W. (JJ) Jenkins, is a second-year PA student at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis., and will be graduating in May 2014. He is an Army veteran and former president of the Carroll University Physician Assistant Student Society (CU PASS).

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