Transitioning from didactics to rotations with ease

This week we asked our friend Amanda Ly of @coffeeandscrubs to guest blog for us. She happily agreed to share her thoughts on the sometimes difficult transition from didactics to rotations. Below you'll find her tips and tricks.

Several weeks into 2nd year, I started having anxiety that things were starting to speed up in med school. From choosing where I was going to do 3rd year rotations to beginning Step 1 board prep, I felt incredibly overwhelmed compared to first year. Many of my 3rd year friends kept reassuring me that once I passed Step 1 that everything would be "worth it."

And boy were they right! I have to admit that the first 3 weeks of 3rd year were very, very confusing. All of a sudden, I went from 12-14 hours a day studying to having my nights and weekends off in my Family Medicine rotation. I didn’t know how to approach rotations and free time and it was hard finding any information for this magical transition from didactics to rotations. With that being said, I threw together my top five things to help with this transition!


Alas, you get to have some sort of life back! I recommend spending as much time as you can with the people you love because it really is incredible how much time you get off compared to the first two years of medical school.


MULTIPLE WHITE COATS: Pen explosions. NG tube spillage. Snot from a pediatric patient. You will need more than one coat for more reasons that I can name. I like to keep one in the car (in case I forget mine at home), one in my closet for professional/non-clinical events, and one I wear on a daily basis. Pro-tip: wash your white-coat every week or bi-weekly depending on the rotation. Wash with whites in cold water and toss in the dryer!

A COMFORTABLE PAIR OF SCRUBS: There is a good chance your lovely old scrubs have residual anatomy lab smells. Whether you are on night shift or doing a normal day in Emergency Medicine, you will most likely need to provide your own scrubs. I find happiness in little things and one of them is a nice pair of comfy scrubs. I highly recommend FIGS scrubs because I am SERIOUS when I say they are the most comfortable scrubs I own. Also because my favorite professor swears by them!

GOOD PAIR OF SHOES: Best: Danskos even though they may not be everyone’s cup of tea or a pair of good sneakers with Dr. Scholl’s inserts. Stylish: Payless flats with Dr. Scholl’s inserts.


SMALL NOTEBOOK: You will get so many cool tips and tricks from residents, attending’s, PAs, and nurses on your rotations. Useful if you want to appear like you are doing something when you have no idea what you are doing.


MAXWELL BOOK: You can find it for $5 on Amazon but it has your basic ACLS, equations, normal values, etc. 

4. STUDY MATERIAL (yes, you still have to do this)

Set aside some time to do some reading, whether it’s 1 hour a day or lumped together on the weekends, this will help you for your shelf exams!

FAVORITE ONLINE RESOURCES: Online Med Ed (a ton of free videos on so many specialties!) and Med U (they walk you through different cases) Q-Bank: UWorld, COMBANK, COMQUEST.

FAVORITE BOOKS: Step Up to Medicine, Master the Boards, Case Files


This year will still be tough and sometimes you need a little positivity going into 4th year. Whether mentally or written down, I like to sit down and think of one positive thing that happened in my day. Studies show that this really does increase your overall happiness!


Amanda is a third year osteopathic medical student who originates from Minneapolis, MN and shares her love of coffee, crafts, and medicine on her Instagram, CoffeeandScrubs.