Medical students Nuha Fariha and Dominique Cross

The Journey to Becoming a Doctor

Monday, September 30, 2019 |

Taking additional steps in their journeys toward becoming doctors, a cohort of 11 third-year medical students from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) started their clinical rotations at Bayhealth in early July. As part of their rotations, students are paired with physicians throughout the community, including those in primary care, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics to name a few.

Medical students take part in clinical rotations the last two years of their medical education. Rotations allow students to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom to real-life situations. During these rotations, students shadow physicians and work with patients for the first time in order to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Clinical rotations also help medical students determine which residency program they will pursue following graduation from medical school. This next step in their education is called graduate medical education (GME), which is more commonly known as a residency. Bayhealth has begun the process to launch residency teaching programs with a proposed start date of summer 2021, making Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus and Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus teaching hospitals.

11 medical students at Bayhealth

Two of the 11 medical students at Bayhealth — Nuha Fariha and Dominique Cross (pictured top) — are in their third year at PCOM, and are in the midst of their one-year core clinical rotations at Bayhealth. During the course of the year, the pair will experience 11 core rotations each.

Cross has already completed her rotation in surgery, where she worked about 12–14 hours per day, and is now in her family medicine rotation working about 9–10 hours per day. She doesn’t mind the long hours at all because she’s getting an education she considers invaluable. “These rotations have solidified what I have already learned in the classrooms,” said Cross. “The diseases and medicine make so much more sense seeing them in practice in real-life situations.” Fariha has similar sentiments about the hands-on experience. “It’s incredible just to see the disease pathologies come to life and to see how medicine really does impact the patient’s life.”

Patients also benefit from the clinical rotations, as key elements involve educating and advocating for patients. “We sit and talk with the patient in the exam room prior to the attending physician coming in. We do this so that we can really get to the bottom of what is going on in the patient’s life,” explained Fariha. She said this allows the patient the opportunity to address their concerns in a more relaxed environment. “If the patient has additional questions or concerns, we can relay them to the physician and act as a bridge of community. Most importantly, we are there for the patient and advocate for them.”

Although just a few months into her rotation, Cross says the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. “All the staff at Bayhealth has been so kind, from the attending physicians to the staff in the cafeteria,” said Cross. “The teaching environment here has been extremely supportive.”

The hope for the future is that a GME program at Bayhealth will entice medical students like Cross and Fariha to stay in Delaware to pursue their residencies and continue their careers.

What are the differences between a medical student and a resident?

A medical student —

  • is still in medical school.
  • is still exploring different specialties.
  • cannot prescribe medications to patients.
  • can communicate with patients about course of care, but cannot put in orders.
  • can see patients, but only under the guidance of a licensed physician.

A resident —

  • has graduated medical school and is a physician.
  • has chosen a specialty.
  • is a physician and can prescribe medications to patients.
  • can put in patient orders for course of care.
  • is a physician and can see patients and provide care. 

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