With my being 3.5 weeks into my 6 week long elective rotation, I thought now would be a great time to “Day in the Life” post! The dermatology clinic I’m at is in downtown D.C. and is very busy, so it’s been a great experience for me and I’ve gotten to see a ton of different diagnoses and patients. With that being said, every site is very different, so I don’t know how my experience who change if I were somewhere else.
This is what a general day looks like for me at clinic!
My internal alarm clock goes off and I wake up (also my cat starts meowing around this time so that doesn’t help my trying to sleep in). I tend to lay in bed half sleeping until my real alarm clock goes off.
My real alarm goes off and my day starts. I lay in bed for another 15 minutes either hitting snooze or checking social media.
Off to the shower to wash my face and fully wake up. I’ve been using Philosophy’s Purity cleanser for years, and I love the way it leaves my face feeling!
Eat breakfast; normally I have cereal or oatmeal depending on the day. If I’m running late, I’ll grab a CliffBar to eat on my walk.
Start getting dressed and put on my skin care products and makeup for the day. I’m tend to stay with a more of a “natural” look for makeup products, so I stick to a simple powder foundation, mascara, and lipstick for days I’m going to clinic.
Put together my lunch and grab anything else I need for the day. I normally am eating leftovers from the night before, or if I didn’t cook enough food I’ll grab a frozen dinner. Also in my lunch box is a grab and squeeze applesauce, fruit, and granola bars.
Leave for clinic! I’m lucky enough that this clinic is within walking distance of my apartment, and that DC is such a walkable city. I either call my mom on the walk or listen to music. It takes me about 15 minutes, which is great because simply doing my walk to and from clinic gives me 30 minutes of light exercise a day.
I normally wear tennis shoes and bring my flats in my purse for clinic, which is ironic because I used to never understand why people did this, but after my first week I was all for wearing sneakers and putting my flats in my bag.
Arrive at clinic, grab my white coat, and get ready for the day to start. Everyday I record the diagnoses that I see for my school, so I need to make sure I have my notes on me. I’ve taken to using spiral bound notecards for this, because they’re a little more sturdy to write on when I’m on the go.
Start seeing patients! Depending on the patient, we see them in blocks of 15 minutes or 30 minutes. “Normal” patients (ones that come often to the clinic) are seen in 15 minutes. New patients get a half an hour, and surgeries also get 30 minutes. Most cosmetic work falls under “normal” patients, but there are some lasers at the clinic that take longer.
One of the great things about working at a clinic in DC is that we see a variety of different cultures among our patients. It’s really helped me to understand more how different skin types and hair need different treatments.
This is our first break of the day. Every so often we have a 15 minute break built into the schedule, which serves a couple of purposes.
A) it allows us time to catch up if we’re running behind on seeing patients.
B) it gives us time to chart on the patients we’ve seen so far during the day.
C) it gives us a moment to grab a drink or run to the bathroom
Back to seeing patients. I normally see about 10-15 patients in the morning hours.
Lunch time. I normally use this to do a couple of different things since we have such a long time for lunch. I’ll finish up any charts I have left to do from morning patients, go over the charts with my preceptors so that they can sign off on them, look up diagnoses in my amazing derm guides, or input the diagnoses that I saw that morning into my school’s records tracker. My school has us keep track of the diagnoses we see, and record them, so that they can keep track of what is going on during our rotation. It also is a requirement of the accreditation process, and it allows future employers to know what things we have and have not done. I really enjoy doing it, because it makes me think more in depth about the patient, and it’s given me an opportunity to record how independently I see patients. Since I’ve started at clinic, I’ve gotten a lot more independent with seeing the patient from start to finish and preforming any procedures on them.
Of course, I also eat lunch during this time period. On Wednesdays, we have rep. lunches – AKA the most wonderful thing in the world.
Break time. This is also when I eat my snack – normally some kind of fruit (this week is cherries).
More afternoon patients.
The last patient of the day (hopefully) walks out of the clinic. I’ll spend 10-15 minutes looking over charts and finishing up anything left over from the day before I head out.
On Wednesdays, we see patients until 7ish, while on Fridays, we’re done by 1pm! The wonders of private practice means that hours can be a little lighter and more flexible (depending on the place).
By this time, I’ve made it home from work. On the walk home I talk to my mom on the phone about our days. I also tend to stop by the grocery store to pick up any miscellaneous food items I need, or if I change my mind about what I want to make for dinner and need to buy different ingredients.
Prepare dinner for the night, and make sure that I have enough to eat for lunch the next day. I’m not great at meal prepping for the entire week, and honestly, I don’t enjoy eating the same thing every day. Making a meal for 2 at night gives me enough to eat for dinner and lunch, without making me eat it for the rest of the week.
Exercise or watch TV. This honestly depends on the day, and how I feel. I’m trying to get back into shape, and to do that I need to make sure I do some form of exercise. With that being said, I would much rather sit on the couch and watch TV. My goal is working out 3-4 times a week, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep that up.
This is also when I take a real shower and blow dry my hair, because I don’t want to spend time doing this in the morning.
Bed time! I’m one of those people who needs lots of sleep to function properly, and I might as well enjoy it while I can. Once I hit some of my more challenging rotations, I would have as much time to sleep.
What kind of patients am I seeing?
So it depends on the day, but there are definitely some more common diagnoses that I see on a daily basis. Acne is probably the most common, followed by Alopecia Areata, keloids, biopsies and excisions of atypical nevi (moles) and cancerous lesions, and “weird” rashes. I’m seeing anywhere from 15-30 patients, depending on the day and what kind of patients come in. It’s been a lot of exposure, which is so wonderful with this being my first rotation.
Pretty much what happens is I go in and see the patient initially, obtained a history and do a physical exam, and then I go out and present the case to my preceptor. I give her my thoughts on what the diagnosis is and what I would prescribe for treatment, then we go in together and see the patient. She’ll then decide what she would like to treat them with. After the patient leaves, we have a discussion about them. Then if I’m confused about anything, or if I just want to cement it in my brain, I’ll look it up in a resource.
So when am I studying?
Well, my elective rotation has no End of Rotation (EOR) exam, so my schedule is a little more flexible on how much I need to study. I tend to do a lot of dermatology research during clinic hours when I have a free moment. Then I spend the weekends studying in advance for some of my other rotations. This means going over subjects that I struggled more with (Cardiology, Renal, and Endocrine), and reviewing them. I’m also making the same kind of “blueprint” charts for the topics on the NCCPA EOR exams that I made last semester for our Clinical Medicine exams.
My study habits will DEFINITELY change once I enter my core rotations and have EOR exams to prepare for.
I hope you enjoyed this little look into what my rotation in Dermatology looks like! I’m going to try to do these “day in the life” posts for each of my rotations. Also feel free to follow me on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), or subscribe to the blog to get a better look into the daily life.