The third year of medical school consists of rotations through each of the medical departments, such as surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, etc. At COMP-NW these rotations are based out of a metro-area in the Northwest, mainly cities along the I-5 corridor. The school has coordinated with hospitals and clinics in these areas to have student doctors do their clinical rotations. This year there were about one-third of the rotations located in Portland and another third of the rotations located in the Willamette Valley region (Corvallis, Lebanon, Albany, and part of the coast). In order to find out which location a student would be based out of for third year, there is a "lottery."
Before January, the only associations I have of the lottery were gambling and a short science-fiction essay written about population control. Neither gave me a great impression of what we were up against when preparing our future for next year. The actual lottery process was not terribly painful, though.
To begin with, students received a schema of what rotations were available. The schema came in an excel workbook, looking like the example image below.
Keep in mind this process is not used at every medical school (every school is different) and this picture is only an example of a process that may change in subsequent years. The schema was sent in early January and students were informed of lottery results last week.
After having time to review and rank rotations, a day was set apart for students to submit their rotation preferences. When Scott and I reviewed these rotation schedules together we considered 1) location, 2) housing, 3)order of rotations, 4) scheduled vacation time. Students are only alloted one vacation time per year, and I plan to book it up! When considering the order of rotations, some students strategized to have their elective rotations near the beginning and some choose to have their elective near the end, depending on what specialty their are interested in and if they wanted first impressions or last impressions.
The system isn't perfect. At COMP NW many of the students received their first choice rotation schedule (location and schedule of departments). However, those who did not receive their first choice didn't even receive a rotation of their top preference. I'm sure the school will continue to work with student body officers to improve this process for other classes.
With all that said, we will be staying in the Willamette Valley for Scott's third year of medical school. We are excited for the opporunity Scott has to network with residency doctors in Corvallis and for me to continue my great job and MBA program! Now the only challenge is keeping in contact with our moving circle of friends and preparing for fourth year electives and residencies. Oh! but first there's boards!