You’re in medical school, but have you defined your career goals? Do you know what kind of doctor you want to be? If not, don’t worry – that’s what your clinical rotations are for. You go through six core rotations and multiple electives, trying to find the specialty that’s right for you. For some, it’s an obvious choice, but for others, a few weeks rotating through different practices aren’t enough to determine the course of their career. Sometimes it’s easier to figure out what you want to do by ruling out what you definitely don’t want do.

For most, the first day of a new rotation can be a rude awakening. Not only are you up before the sun, but you barely have time to make your breakfast and put your shoes on. Preparing for the busy schedule and long hours that a rotation brings can be rough, but I’ve learned that the best way to manage is to be an early riser. I wake up hours ahead of time to cook, study, exercise, plan, and generally be productive. Perhaps you’re not a morning person so you’ll think it’s just as easy to do these things at night. Your rotation will keep you on your feet all day and at least for me, when I get home, I’m too exhausted to study. I spend more time concentrating on keeping my eyes open than on reading my textbook. Time management is a priority, so take time to figure out what works best for you, but I’m sure you’ll realize you’re much more productive in the morning.

So now you’re nearing the end of your rotation, what next? How do you spend your remaining time? At this point, you’ve been interacting with the same people for weeks and probably feel much more comfortable with your colleagues, resident, nursing staff, and environment. However, it’s important to continue conducting yourself professionally, without being too familiar. It’s the homestretch, but don’t lose sight of your objective. Spend your remaining moments putting in the hard work that will leave an impression on those that matter most.

Now that you’ve finished your rotation, you have nothing to do until the next one sneaks up on you. You’re probably promising yourself that you’ll study over the break, review past material, and read over information for your next rotation. Unfortunately, this promise to yourself will most likely be replaced with YouTube videos, popular TV series, and On Demand movies. Don’t let this time between rotations slip away. There are things you can do to stay productive: exercise, volunteer, travel, join clubs, study. Find ways to stay active and social in an effort to maintain some sense of routine. This way, instead of feeling like a kid on the last day summer, you’ll feel rested and prepared by the start of your next rotation.