Emily Howell, OMS-IV

As emergency medicine becomes more competitive, audition rotations have become increasingly important. These rotations offer the opportunity for programs to assess a candidate’s potential for residency while allowing the candidate to experience potential training environments. With audition rotations ranging between two to four weeks, how can a student make the most of their time while also leaving a favorable impression on each program?  Based on conversations with attendings, residents, and personal experience, here is a list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind moving forward into your own auditions!


1. DO be excited and ready.

This is it! This is what you’ve been waiting for throughout medical school. The emergency department is an exciting place. The best way to show your enthusiasm is to show up prepared and ready to work. I recommend finding a great pocket manual and keeping it either in your bag or white coat. You may not always have a computer to look information up and staying on your phone all shift can send the wrong message, even if you are really reading.  

2.  DO be aware of your surroundings.

As a member of the team, you should keep your eyes and ears open!  Opportunities come to those who actively seek them out. Things happen quickly in the department and you do not want to be left behind. If you have a chance, keep an eye on the waiting room or even the ambulance bay. By paying attention, you might have the opportunity to see an interesting patient or even get to assist with a procedure!

3.  DO keep your exams and presentations concise.

That running joke of emergency physicians having short attention spans exists for a reason. Patient presentations should be concise, yet meaningful. Aim to cover pertinent elements of the HPI and physical examination in under three minutes. Most residents and attendings won’t sit there with a timer, but anything longer than three minutes is likely to either be interrupted or ignored. For more information on how to give a great presentation, check out “The 3-Minute Emergency Medicine Medical Student Presentation: A Variation on a Theme” by Davenport, Honigman, and Druck (Acad Emerg Med, 2008).

4.  DO follow up.

Look for opportunities to round on your patients and keep track of their progress. The goal is to get them stabilized and dispositioned. Their care does not stop after the history and physical examination, and neither should you. Find a system  to keep track of your patients and their progress. I recommend a good old fashioned piece of paper. Start a blank piece of paper at the beginning of the shift and keep a running list of patients. On this list, write pertinent history findings as well as their plan and disposition. This way, you can keep track of exactly what the team might be waiting on and you can help them get the job done.


1. DON’T check out.

Each patient offers the opportunity to learn and every patient has something to say. Even if you have seen ten patients with chest pain on this particular shift, remember to stay open and willing. You never know what a patient might reveal.

2.  DON’T underestimate your role.

You might feel like the lowest member of the team, but you are in a unique position. You have the opportunity to learn the details about patients that might otherwise be lost. Take the opportunity to check in on your patients often.  

3. DON’T be afraid to help out the team.

This can range from offering to do CPR during codes to grabbing a blanket for your patient. Emergency medicine is truly a team effort.  By showing interest in helping the team, the team will more than likely help you in ways you never expected!

While this list isn’t exhaustive and each shift will come with its own challenges, it is a great starting point. By staying organized and enthusiastic to learn, any emergency department will have so much to offer you.