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No matter what specialty you plan to pursue as a doctor, it’s important for just about everyone to do well on the MS3 internal medicine rotation. Aside from maybe surgery, this rotation is regarded as of the more difficult ones. The internal medicine rotation often has longer hours, more requirements, and content-wise, covers the most material on the NBME exam.

The following are my top 3 tips for doing well on your MS3 internal medicine rotation!

1. Don’t be invisible on your inpatient services.

Much of the internal medicine rotation can be spent on inpatient services such as wards, GI or ID consults, cardiology, etc. These services can be intimidating as it may be a students’ first experience dealing with very sick, hospitalized patients. You also may be one of 6 or 8 people on your medicine wards team. These two factors could make it easy to stay quiet or get lost in the crowd, but in order to do well you must speak up and be an active team member. Try to ask your attending questions about your patients. Offer to help the residents in any way you can. When the team is on rounds, don’t just hang quietly at the back; stay towards the front, observe or ask questions, go into patients’ rooms as much as possible, and try to minimize social conversations with other med students or members of the team.

2. Prepare well from the NBME exam.

The NBME medicine exam covers a huge amount of material. The sheer volume of material to review, coupled with the often long hours spent in the hospital on this rotation, can make this NBME exam seem daunting. However, by studying early and holding yourself accountable, it is very possible to do well on this NBME. A number of good resources are available to prepare for this NBME exam including UWorld, Step Up to Medicine, Case Files, Online Med Ed, NBME practice tests, etc. You should choose materials based on how you learn best, but in general, all students should aim to complete the UWorld questions and at least one NBME practice exam. Remember not to spread yourself too thin; it is better to just complete the Uworld questions, for example, rather than get a surface level review of every possible resource. With around 1700 medicine UWorld questions, completing them by your final exam may be difficult. In order to do so, you often must begin studying from day 1 and divide out how many questions you must complete each day in order to finish the Qbank before the final exam. If you get behind on your questions per day, push yourself to catch up on the weekends. Staying dedicated to your plan will be key to getting a high NBME score.

3. Remember to take care of yourself!

For many students, the MS3 internal medicine rotation is a very busy time. During my rotation, we had dozens of procedures to participate in and log for credit, 12 histories and physicals to perform and write, and often worked 6 days straight for 10 to 14 hours per day before going home to study for a few hours. It could be easy to find yourself doing nothing but studying and working while sleeping just a few hours each night. However, remember the importance of work-life balance. Try to do something fun every day, whether it’s watch your favorite TV show, jog a 5k, or spend a Saturday night with friends. Staying healthy and happy is the best way to do well on your internal medicine rotation!

Overall, the medicine rotation is a very important time for an MS3. This rotation often teaches MS3s the most and is a valuable learning experience if you remember to practice good time management, keep an open mind, and stick to your study plan!

Looking for more internal medicine tips? Have a look at our Internal Medicine Dos and Don'ts


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Lauryn Falcone

Lauryn Falcone

Lauryn Falcone graduated Summa Cum Laude and as co-valedictorian from Rollins College before pursuing an MD/PhD degree at West Virginia University School of Medicine. She is currently working towards a PhD in cellular and integrative physiology at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in a respiratory toxicology laboratory. Lauryn completed her first two years of medical school as an honors student, scoring a 254 on the USMLE Step 1 examination and achieving above the 90th percentile on eight NBME shelf exams. Lauryn has a strong passion for tutoring and mentoring students and enjoys helping them navigate the challenges of medical school.
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