Original Article

Teaching Sideways: Implementing a Peer-Led Medical Student Orientation Bootcamp and Survival Guide for Internal Medicine Clerkship

Authors: Divya Ramakrishnan, BS, Ysabel C. Ilagan-Ying, MD, Bryan Bollinger, BA, Dana Dunne, MD, MHS


Objectives: Transitioning from classroom learning to clerkships presents a challenge for medical students because there is often sparse preparation material on how to effectively contribute to the medical team as a clerkship student. Although some medical schools have implemented transition-to-clerkship sessions, they often are led by faculty and lack the practical and contemporary guidance from students who have recently completed clerkships themselves.

Methods: Using a sideways mentorship approach, we implemented a 1-hour near-peer Internal Medicine (IM) clerkship orientation bootcamp at our medical school and wrote an accompanying survival guide to teach students how to function as part of a medical team and to increase the transparency of student expectations and evaluations during the clerkship. The 1-hour session covered the following core topics: clerkship logistics, how to gather/present clinical information, a resident/student question-and-answer panel, and how to contribute to the medical team. A postclerkship medical student and second-year IM resident conducted the bootcamp for four student cohorts (105 students total) during the January to December 2022 clerkship year before the IM rotation of each cohort. After the bootcamp, students received a copy of the survival guide to solidify concepts covered in the session.

Results: A preclerkship survey included questions to assess student confidence in 10 core IM clerkship domains pre- and postbootcamp. Both pre- and postclerkship surveys asked students to provide feedback on bootcamp strengths and weaknesses. Wilcoxon signed rank tests revealed a significant increase in postbootcamp student confidence rating for all 10 clerkship domains in the early clerkship cohort and in the late clerkship cohort for all of the domains, except finding clinical reference resources (P = 0.15). The bootcamp had the largest effect size (r) on student confidence in both early and late clerkship cohorts for the following clerkship domains: familiarity with IM clerkship evaluation (early: r = 0.61, P < 0.001; late: r = 0.56, P = 0.002), identification of ways to contribute to the medical team (early: r = 0.58, P < 0.001; late: r = 0.63, P < 0.001), and prerounding/chart checking (early r = 0.52, P < 0.001; late: r = 0.55, P = 0.001). The percentage of students rating the helpfulness of both the bootcamp and survival guide as a 3 to 5 on a 5-point Likert scale in the postclerkship survey was highest for the following domains: being familiar with the structure of a subjective, objective, assessment, and plan presentation (88% and 97%), prerounding/chart checking (82% and 95%), writing progress notes (82% and 92%), and identifying ways to contribute to the medical team (82% and 95%). Students commented that the main strengths of the bootcamp included its specific tips on synthesizing and presenting clinical information and its transparency about student expectations and experiences.

Conclusions: A structured student-led bootcamp can increase clerkship preparation in core domains. The bootcamp is now part of mandatory clerkship didactics at our medical school, given its success during the 2022 clerkship year, and its content is continuing to be expanded upon by postclerkship students and residents. In addition, the format of the bootcamp also is being adapted to other clerkships, including surgery and obstetrics/gynecology.

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