Impress Your Attending With Help From AMBOSS

Sophie Moran - May 06, 2021
Two physicians in a hospital look at something on a tablet.

Clinical rotations are an exciting time for medical students. You get to put the wealth of knowledge you’ve been learning in the classroom into practice and get real patient care experience. 

It’s a period of great opportunity. You’ll get to develop your training under physicians and healthcare staff with extensive medical experience, test yourself within the realms of each specialty, and even set yourself up for residency by getting letters of recommendation from your attending physician. Leaving your attendings with a good impression is a big step in making this happen.

Check out the following steps to impress your attending so you can succeed in your clinical rotations and, ultimately, in your chosen career. 

Care for your patients 

Patient care should always be your number one priority, and this should be visible in your clinical conduct. To provide the best patient care, it’s important that you know everything there is to know about each patient. Review their chart before rounds and be able to answer questions about their history, physical examination, and labs. This will enable you to devise treatment plans that your attending can critique (and be impressed by), be prepared for getting pimped, and effectively present your patients

Always treat patients with the utmost care and respect. Be careful not to openly discuss potentially concerning information in front of them.

Don’t be afraid to interact with your patients. As former University of Colorado student, Reade Tillman, acknowledges in her open letter to third years, you’ll never have more time to spend talking and listening to your patients, so make the most of it. This will also help you become the expert on every patient that your team can rely on! 

Be a team player

Being a team player will not only make your clinical rotations a much more enjoyable experience, but it will also show the attending that you’re reliable and easy to work with. Oftentimes, how you conduct yourself in a group setting can be even more important than your medical knowledge or the level of patient care you provide. 

Your goal should be to create a friendly atmosphere, one that will foster collaboration and allow your team to provide the best possible patient care. When trying to impress your attending, the desire to stand out from the crowd can understandably present itself. But it’s important that you make yourself stand out in the right way. If you are always prepared, support your colleagues, and are transparent about the work you are doing, your attending will be sure to notice. On the flip side, if you disrespect your colleagues or diminish their contributions in any way, this can create a hostile environment and cause friction between you and your team. 

Be open-minded 

Receptiveness and a willingness to learn are crucial factors in becoming a successful physician. Always be open-minded, curious, and willing to explore areas of medicine or research that are new to you.

You should also be responsive to feedback. Every one of us has areas where we can learn and grow, and it’s important to be open to constructive feedback and criticism. Being aware of what you don’t know is just as important as what you do know. Be proactive (but not overbearing) and ask the attending for feedback on your patient care and inquire about areas of medical knowledge that you do not fully understand. Just make sure to do your research and reading first so your questions are insightful. This will not only demonstrate your willingness to learn but will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills. 

Prepare for what you can 

Being prepared will make you feel confident and reduce stress so that you can leave a great impression on patients and teammates alike. One way to prepare is by staying on top of your patient charts so you are ready to answer questions. Knowing what patient cases you will have ahead of time means you can tailor your reading accordingly. 

You should also keep up with recommended reading and research. If your attending asks you to read about a specific topic, make sure to so do, and treat it as an educational opportunity for the whole care team. 

The AMBOSS Knowledge app is an easily accessible and reliable resource that will help you be prepared. Check out our guide on using the app during clinical rotations for more insights. 

Establish a relationship with your attending 

Even though attendings have a great degree of influence on your evaluations, it’s important not to view them as distant figures. Attendings will generally be happy to engage with you and answer your questions if they see you are committed and have been fulfilling your various responsibilities as a student doctor. 

A great way of working closely with your attending is by offering to assist them in any additional research or projects they are conducting. Just be transparent about it so your teammates don’t think you’re trying to get ahead of them. 

For more tips on developing your relationship with your attending, check out the AMBOSS Clerkship Survival Guide.


Be true to yourself

While it’s true that you must be able to adapt to your patient’s needs, as well as a variety of complex situations, it’s equally true that you’ll perform your best when you are true to yourself. Don’t lose sight of your own unique personality, values, and strengths. 

Of course, clinical situations will arise that will take you out of your comfort zone, but it's important to view these as learning experiences that everyone goes through together. For example, if you are a naturally reserved person, presenting patients may seem like a daunting task. But don’t let yourself be fooled一this is nerve-wracking for everyone. But as with most things, lots of practice and maintaining the right mindset are the answer. Don’t look at it as something you are not suited to, instead think of it as a skill you now have the opportunity to acquire or perfect. You’ll feel incredibly satisfied when you do! 


Be prepared for every clinical rotation with the AMBOSS Clerkship Survival Guide