For the first time since opening in 2011, Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest will offer a rotations boot camp for second-year students starting today.

During the first two years of medical school, COMP-Northwest students are engrossed in classroom pre-clinical learning. During the following years, students rotate through different hospitals and medical offices to gain clinical experience. The Rotations Boot Camp is aimed at preparing students for those latter years.

“Many medical schools and residency programs offer a boot camp before a student starts their residency, but we could not find any schools doing a boot camp to prepare second-year students to start their clinical years,” said Katherine Fisher, DO, Director of Clinical Education at COMP-Northwest.

The students will spend two 12-hour days rotating through a series of work stations in groups of up to 10 students, with one or two practicing physicians at each station. A quarter of the time will be spent in the classroom getting computer training for electronic health records and diabetes (due to its prevalence). Students also will hear from primary care residents in the Samaritan Health System residency program.

The workstations will focus on different aspects of physically examining a patient. For example, one station will emphasize how to examine joints to identify problems with hips, shoulders or knees, as well as perfecting how a student performs a neurologic exam.

The boot camp also will focus on how to document these physical findings in the medical chart. Students will gain hands-on experience so they will be comfortable using tools such as ophthalmoscopes and otoscopes before having to use one in an exam room.

COMP-Northwest students also will practice how to scrub and gown up for surgery, focusing on how to not contaminate the surgical field. Students will practice suturing and tying knots. They will have a discussion group on the practical and ethical dilemmas they will come across while doing clinical rotations in their third- and fourth-year of medical school.

The first two years of medical school occur on campus, while the third and fourth years occur in hospital and clinical settings around the state. Many COMP-Northwest students will complete clinical rotations in rural settings.

The boot camp is voluntary, but more than two-thirds of the class has signed up to attend. Most of the students will have completed their national board exams the week before. “Instead of taking a few precious days off to relax, they are motivated to want to start their third year at full speed, confident and competent for this level of training,” Fisher said.

Twenty-eight physicians and health care providers from Oregon are volunteering their time to spend up to 12 hours straight working with the students in small groups. The camp will also give COMP-Northwest students an opportunity to interact with practicing physicians and inquire about their medical specialties.

At the completion of boot camp, the students have the option of being graded on the level of their competence on any given exam or procedure being practiced at boot camp.