How to Succeed on Away Rotations

Amiethab Aiyer, MD | Matthew Varacallo, MD

August 25, 2021


Welcome to away rotation season! This is a great way to showcase your capabilities, demonstrate your sense of team entirely and to identify if the given program is right for you.  Although most students are only able to do 1 away rotation the cycle, here are some important considerations as you make your way into your audition rotation.

  1. Be Nice to Everyone Around You

Everyone is observing the way in which you engage with staff, residents, faculty at every corner of the hospital. The nicer you are to people the better chance you have of leaving an incredible impression.

2. Define Expectations

Try your level best to define expectations with the residents and attendings you will be working with; this will make it easier to prepare for both clinic and for the operating room

3. Read, Read, Read

Try to take 1 or 2 pathologies that you see per day and review how to evaluate diagnosis and treat these issues.  No one will expect you know how to manage everything, but people will notice when you take a passionate interest in the care of their patients

4. Preparation

Prepare for cases as best as you can; try to understand the patients, their medical history, the indications for the surgery as best as you can. It is prudent to review the surgical anatomy, so you can be as helpful as possible in assisting with the case.  Most times questions in the OR will stem from anatomy, as we are often moving through many important structures in order to complete the case.  While understanding implants and certain tips and tricks in the OR is fine, you are more likely to be asked about anatomy than anything else.

5. Integrate Yourself into the Team

Make sure that you talk to the residents about how best you can help with the given service.  Do everything in your power to help the most junior resident, who can often use all the help he or she can get.  Take the initiative to see consults, do dressing changes, help with reductions/ splint applications and/or go to the OR if your assistance is best served there.  Remember that the residents often have a large influence on the match process, particularly when it comes to people who have rotated at their program

6. Research

Get involved with research if it is available; another way to demonstrate an interesting commitment to give him program, is to help with ongoing projects that residents may have. The residents are often swamped with other clinical responsibilities, so this is a great way to get to know the residents on a given project, as well as to demonstrate perseverance to take projects from start to finish.

7. Be Respectful

Treat everyone with respect throughout the entirety of the hospital.  Everyone is watching you and it is critical to remember that the way in which you treat people, especially if it is poorly, will get back to members of the selection committee.

8. Be Mindful of Your Conduct

Even if you know the residents or the faculty members, remember that everyone is evaluating you.  Students who get too comfortable or get callus in their approach to departmental engagement may not be viewed favorably.  Again, be respectful and this will take you extremely far.

9. Seek Feedback

Halfway through your rotation, look to garner feedback on your performance. Use Pendleton’s rules: What am I doing well? What could I do to improve? This will help you grow now and in your career. It will also allow you to gauge if a given attending is a good one to get a strong letter of recommendation from.

10. Have Fun!

This is great time to network, develop relationships that turn into mentorships. Good luck!


DISCLOSURES: Dr. Aiyer American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: Board or committee member, Delee & Drez Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support, Medline: Paid consultant, Medshape: Paid consultant, Miller’s Review of Orthopaedics (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support Dr. Varacallo This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

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