Make the Most of Externships

You spend a large part of your fourth year in podiatry school feeling uncomfortable—your externships take you to new places, with new people and new procedures. Just as you start to feel comfortable, it’s time to move. However, these real clinical experiences are crucial to your learning and your future career. At the Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) we have members who are students, residents and practitioners at all stages of their careers. That gives us access to the experiences of both those who have recently gone through their externships as well as those charged with evaluating students in their externships. Below are some tips to make the most of this important part of your training:

Be on Time—this may sound very basic but being late irritates those you’re working for and can place a negative slant on your relationship. The same is true for asking to leave early or take days off. Plan to be early and this will help offset traffic delays and getting lost. Being on time or early gives the appearance that you are eager to learn and will make those training you predisposed to help and expose you to as much as possible.

Be on Top of Your Game in the Clinic—be polite but timely in dealing with patients. Stay focused in your questions and present only relevant info to the resident or attending. If you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to be sure to look it up and email the resident to let them know what you found out. Never miss the same question twice!

Tune in to the OR Protocol--every externship is different. Ask up front what is expected of you in the OR. Observe and take cues and you’ll soon discover if you are supposed to stay out of the way and observe or get in and actually participate. Time your questions—at the start of a delicate part of the procedure or right after a complication has occurred are obviously not good times.

Make Your Presentation Stellar--most externships include an opportunity to give a presentation. Don’t slack off on this aspect of your program. Physicians use the presentation to evaluate a student’s ability to review and evaluate literature and think critically as well as creativity, social skills, confidence and knowledge. Practice, practice, practice until your presentation is second nature.

IPED is an organization that can help you throughout your podiatric career—starting now, when you are still in training. To learn more about the benefits of membership, contact Executive Director Ruth Ann Donahue at: info@podiatricexcellence.org.