Third-Year Electives During Residency

The great thing about your final year of residency is that you have elective time. These rotations can be opportunities to get an inside look at practices you may be considering joining after graduation. Regardless of whether you have narrowed down the type of practice you would like to join or create, you can use the time to explore different practice models and see different practice styles in action. In this case, seeing patients is not the focus of the rotation; seeing the practice is. 

Some questions that you should consider include:

  • How do the physicians and staff work together?
  • What is their management structure?
  • How do they incorporate physician assistants and/or nurse practitioners into the practice?
  • What aspects of the patient-centered medical home seem to be working well? 
  • Is there a sense of teamwork and camaraderie?
  • How does the practice relate to the larger health care system and medical staff?
  • What is the community like?
  • Can you see yourself in this particular practice or a similar one? What are the attributes of a practice that you can’t live without?  What are the things that would drive you crazy in a practice?

If you are considering further training in a fellowship, you may want to use your elective time to rotate in institutions where those opportunities exist. You’ll need to make note of the processes and deadlines for applications. 

Some say that choosing a practice or a fellowship is nearly as important as choosing a life partner.  Carefully planned elective time can help you to see first-hand what suits you best.

Stan Kozakowski, MD

After a time in private practice, Dr. Kozakowski spent a total of 24 years at the Hunterdon Family Medicine Residency Program in Flemington, New Jersey. He served as faculty and associate director, then as program director for his last 15 years there. He came to the AAFP in 2011 as Director of the Medical Education Division.