Every third-year medical student knows the feeling: the mild, sometimes high level of anxiety walking into the hospital or clinic for the first time. Internal thoughts jumping from “where am I supposed to report?” to “ok, I made it here…now, what does the team expect me to do?” A few weeks into the rotation, those same questions still pop up. Eight weeks later when students feel confident in the expectations and how to meet them, medical students transition to a new rotation and start the process all over again. My friends and I wished we knew how to flourish from the beginning, so we decided to create Wards & Boards, a peer-to-peer mentorship mobile app. The app compiled advice from fourth-year medical students who completed each clerkship designed for third-year students beginning their first rotation.
Our third-year medical students received access to Wards & Boards at the beginning of July. Compared to shared Google Docs or Excel sheets, the app is user-friendly and allows students to navigate more intuitively to the desired information rather than scrolling lengthy documents or using search commands to find information that may or may not be there. Also, receiving specific advice on clinical sites’ expectations of students from classmates who have completed the rotation sets clear goals for success. The app can catalog the most up-to-date helpful information without making a new document and update it instantaneously. Lastly, Wards & Boards has a feature that allows users to rate the most beneficial advice and contribute new information once they finish a rotation. That way, students use tried-and-true methods while also staying current.
The most important part of Wards & Boards is the “Rotations” section where users can find the exact location for a clinical site, how to dress, what to bring, and site-specific advice on how to succeed and not repeat the same mistakes as previous students. For instance, my classmate experienced firsthand how essential it is to relay a clinical site’s student expectations. On his OBGYN rotation, a physician sent him home to change because he was in business casual attire rather than scrubs. The physician said the previous medical student was supposed to relay this by contacting the student directly via text, word-of-mouth or email. Now, a classmate can simply just sign onto Wards & Boards and perform the following steps: