This is probably one of the vital mistakes I made in PA school. We had to choose within our first six months of didactic year and I was on the clueless train as to what area I wanted to practice. So, here is the advice I wish I knew when I chose my elective rotation.
1. Play the Numbers for the PANCE.
Yep this means Cardiology. Cards makes up 16% of content on the boards. It’s also a huge part of practice no matter what area you go in to, especially if you are practicing in any type of medicine. Learn everything you need to know about treating STEMI’s, NSTEMI’s, CHF and A-Fib.
2. Increase the Acuity
If you have any interest working in general medicine or in any specialty practicing in a hospital setting think about Critical Care. I realize that the more rapid responses I’m involved in and forced to handle critical patient situations the more I advance as a provider.
3. Future Job
Preceptors hire previous students, so think about what area of medicine you want to practice and where you might want to live. Try and get a rotation based on where you want to live, or even just experience in an area of medicine regardless of location. For example rotating in dermatology would give you an edge over an applicant who did not complete a rotation in dermatology.
4. Infectious Disease
Bugs and drugs people. Everyone needs to know about antibiotic coverage. I definitely wish I would have dug more into what antibiotics cover what types of bacteria in school. Although you probably don’t need a lot of this information for boards (you likely won’t get questions like what is the best drug to treat gram negative bacteria) it will help you when you graduate.
5. Once in a lifetime
Some people take the opportunity to learn an area of medicine you may never practice or experience again. For example neonatal medicine, maternal fetal medicine, specific area of oncology, pediatric neurosurgery, etc. You get the idea.