Monday, October 24, 2016

my clinical rotation essentials

medical school essentials

One of the most asked questions on here is one that is hard to answer: what kind of shoes are most comfortable to wear on rotations? Over the past few years, I've figured that out for myself, but it's definitely something where no one answers fits all because all of our feet are different! The topic did get me thinking about what my essentials are for clinical rotations - things I use every day and would be very upset if I didn't have with me. So here are the eleven items I consider my rotation essentials!
  1. A fleece. Wearing a fleece versus white coat versus no coat will depend heavily on what rotation you are on and where you rotate. On every rotation where I wear scrubs, my Patagonia fleece is my best friend. It gives you the extra warmth like a white coat does, but is a lot more comfortable than that scratchy material white coats are made of. It has almost as many pockets to keep snacks in, and washes easily to keep the germs away. Some hospitals don't allow personal jackets, so unfortunately this may not work for everyone at every hospital.
  2. Pocket clipboard. CR got me this last year as a present, and I've used it countless times over the past year and a half. I use it most on rotations where I do a lot of writing while standing - so rotations like Internal Medicine, where you spend a lot of time rounding. It fits perfectly into the white coat pockets, has stickers on it with a bunch of high yield information, and you can even get your name engraved on it. 
  3. Apple watch: I've only had my apple watch for a month now, and am obsessed with it. It's not always possible to pull out your phone every time it buzzes, and during a time like residency interview season, it's very hard not to pull it out every time! I love that with a quick flick of my wrist, I can see if the email or phone call is important or not. I also love that I can see what is on our collective google calendar - especially with EM shifts, it's hard to always know what we are doing each day. It has motivated me to get out and walk more because it measures my steps, and I can even use it to pay for my food at the cafeteria. This is a very pricey item, and definitely not something you need, but it has been essential for me so far. CR got it for me for my birthday, and was able to get a good deal on it at Target, so keep an eye out if interested!
  4. Wallet/Phone case: I think almost all of my friends have now switched over to having some kind of wallet/case combo. Carrying around a wallet in the hospital is annoying, and you are away from your purse most of the day. You could be on one side of the hospital when your team decides it's time for lunch, so this way you always have your credit card with you. 
  5. Foam roller. This one may seem a bit strange, as it's not something you are taking with you to the hospital. But if you are on a very physical rotation, like emergency medicine or any type of surgery, you will be using your muscles a ton. I've retracted enough in six hour surgeries to know that my arms, back, and thighs are going to ache that night. A quick rolling on the foam roller not only hurts so good, but will make you less sore in the morning. 
  6. Insoles. Here is my answer for everyone who is looking for comfortable shoes for when you wear dress clothes and not scrubs: get insoles for your flats. If you have a pair of flats that don't rub your feet the wrong way, put a pair of insoles in them, and you'll be good all day long. If you don't have a pair of shoes that don't rub your toes or heels the wrong way, I suggest getting a pair with elastic around the top, like these from Bandolino that come in several colors. They typically require less breaking in, and have more room for the insole. 
  7. Portable phone charger. Some days you are at the mercy of the residents to be there for as long as possible, and sometimes that means being on your phone a lot while they work. I did a lot of UWorld questions during down time, and that sucks up battery power fast. I love my little Anker version as it charges itself quickly, charges my phone quickly, and takes up little space. These are essential on night float as well!
  8. Pens: I keep two types of pens in my pocket. One that I love - my favorite is the fine Tul pens. But those puppies aren't cheap, and people will borrow them and you'll never see them again. I keep a second cheap pen I can loan out to residents and attendings, and don't awkwardly have to ask for my pen back at the end of the day. 
  9. Compression socks. I like to joke that I'm an old lady because my legs swell, but after standing for 14 hours every day during my first week of Ob last rotation, my legs felt heavy and swollen. I owned a couple pairs of compression socks, but that weekend ordered three more. The following week, I stood just as long, but my legs didn't swell, and I was overall a lot more comfortable. If you are on a rotation where you will be standing a lot, these are one of the best things you can do for yourself. They are pricey, so maybe throw them on your Christmas wish list as well - that's my plan this year!
  10. Pocket snacks. Vital. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON HERE. I'm kidding...but really I'm not. Again, you will not always be near your bag, and there will be times where you just need to stuff something in your mouth while you're in the bathroom before your next six hour surgery. Do I say this from experience? Maybe. My favorites are Kind bars and peanut butter packets. Protein to keep you full, a bit of sweetness to make you happy. 
  11. Comfortable scrub shoes. This is one of those things you just have to figure out for yourself about what you like. I have two pairs of Danskos, and while I actually think they are pretty cute, the versions I have are too high for me. I just feel really unstable in them, and my feet always hurt. My dad wears Birkenstock clogs to work, and loves them, so I ordered my own pair, and they are amazing (although kind of ugly...). I'm not going to lie, my feet still hurt a bit after a long shift, but these definitely help. I've seen all types of shoes in the hospital and OR - tennis shoes, Danskos, Birks, other clogs. You may have to try a few things before you find what you're most comfortable in because again, there is no one size fits all here, but it is worth figuring it out for yourself. If you don't see yourself working in an OR in the future, you will be fine wearing tennis shoes, and just wearing those booties over your shoes. If you think you'll be doing something bloody in the future, it may be a good time to invest in shoes where you can easily clean that blood off of them.