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Third-Year Clerkships Explained

On their way to becoming doctors, College of Medicine students must complete a number of clerkships during their third year and rotations during their fourth year. By the way, at NEOMED, clerkships are typically core experiences students do during their M3 year while rotations are either required or elective experiences students typically do during the M4 year. Who better to explain those courses than the M3 clerkship and M4 rotation course director David Sperling, M.D. (’85), associate professor of family and community medicine?

As the course director for both programs, Dr. Sperling ensures that each clerkship and rotation location meets NEOMED’s specifications. He also works with the physicians in charge of seven different clerkship disciplines (general surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, and emergency medicine) to make sure the students’ experiences are high-quality and comparable in experience to each other, regardless of the site.

Did you know NEOMED has 63 different clerkship sites?

For those unfamiliar with NEOMED’s third-year clerkships, let Dr. Sperling explain the process of timing and placement.

“During their third year, our students do two nine-week clerkships, one in general surgery and one in internal medicine; four six-week clerkships—in family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology—and one three-week clerkship in emergency medicine. So for each of those clerkships, students are out at one of our partner hospitals. For example, there are four sites where they go for pediatrics, 11 sites where they go to for internal medicine and nine to 10 sites for the other disciplines, so they’re in groups of two to eight when they’re out there working together with the physicians—and often residents, too—at the sites.

It’s almost like a mini apprenticeship when they’re there for those three to nine weeks. We want to make sure they’re immersed in the clinical environment and getting lots of hands-on experience,” says Dr. Sperling.