Late in the spring of your junior year, you may
have the opportunity to schedule elective clerkships and subinternships.
Use these to your advantage. Do not feel that you must do multiple
subIs in your chosen field of medicine. Talk to your peers and
your residents, and see if they have particular recommendations
If you absolutely know what you want to do, you should take
the time to do something completely different. Perhaps you should
do something you will never do as a physician. If you are interested
in internal medicine, you may consider a month of pediatric
clinic or a few weeks of anesthesia. If you are pursuing general
surgery, you may consider an elective month of dermatology or
emergency room, just to enhance your experience. Remember that
as a medical student, you will have the opportunity to do many
things you will never do as a physician, and without the same
level of responsibility you will have in the future. Take time
to travel. Try an elective out of state or out of the country.
Find out how other residency programs do their thing. All of
these you can do to enrich your senior year as a student.
to do subIs
During the latter part of your third year and
early in your fourth year is the time most students do their
subIs. Generally, as a subintern you will have the opportunity
to work more closely with your residents and attendings. This
will give you the chance to really shine and show that you know
your stuff. Usually, this is also a great time to get a letter
of recommendation, so don't leave all your subinternships until
the late fall. Many students count on their subinternship to
get their letters.
In addition, some students pursue subinternships in the winter
and middle portion of the fourth year. This sometimes gives
the applicant the ability to really see what a particular program
is like without the pressure of feeling like they absolutely
need to get a letter of recommendation from faculty.
well on a subI means going the extra two miles
The subinternship is a stick sharpened at both ends.
SubIs can make applicants who may appear only mediocre on paper
truly shine, or they can make paper superstars into questionable
applicants. In some specialties, it is highly recommended (and
almost mandatory) to "pay your dues" at an institution which
you are interested in attending. If your chosen specialty is
not offered at one of these, you may find that doing a rotation
at an institution that is not your first choice may give you
the chance to get a strong letter of recommendation, and to
visit a new institution without the fear that you might screw
up the chances of attending your first choice institution.
Being a subintern really means being the intern. You are given
less room for excuses during care of your patient. You need
to read up on your patients, research articles, carefully pre-round,
write notes, and generally do everything else the intern is
expected to do. As a subintern, you'll need to volunteer to
pick up patients and stay late.