Merlin Milestone

Milestone 0 Presentation- Clinical Communication

By Shana Merlin

What makes someone a good tourist? What makes a clinical rotation a good clerkship? How do I act like I belong when I have no idea what I’m doing?

These questions were addressed by CHC Affiliates Shana Merlin and Dr. Rob Milman at Milestone 0, a program helping UT’s Dell Medical School students transition from their year of preclinical study into their clinical clerkships.

This tourism-improv connection came up in a brainstorming session Shana and Rob had with the Dell Medical School faculty.  Dell Med’s innovative curriculum allows students to begin clinical rotations after just one year of classroom study.  Students complete rotations in a variety of specialties ranging from psychiatry to surgery.  As part of this journey, they essentially become tourists as each specialty has its own culture, language, and methodologies. The challenge is this: sticking to risk-averse, “bad tourist” behavior is what got many to their high-achieving med school student status, and they need to throw themselves fully into each new clinical experience with curiosity and open-mindedness to get the most out of their rotations. 

And that’s exactly the kind of training Shana and Rob delivered this summer in the Milestone program, helping student get a sense that they are med school tourists, learning from each medical “culture” and helping to decide which destination they like the best when they must choose a specialty.  Through hands-on experiential activities, students explored how to project confidence, even when they are feeling unsure.  Exercises such as defining a gibberish word or quickly and confidently naming five items in a category that is made up on the spot gave students some insight into how to be successful in their new roles. They even worked on what physical and vocal behaviors give off a sense of confidence rather than cockiness. 

Like good tourists, good medical students must have the right attitude. Non-judgmental, action oriented, curious, humble, adventurous, aware. Engaged in the various specialties, they are open to  learning how each contributes to the overall medical school experience.  Rotations give students an opportunity to try on different careers to see how they fit. Students got to practice exhibiting these behaviors in a low-risk setting with the Milestone program. They also gained strategies for increasing confidence when in a new environment, like physically exploring the space ahead of time, matching or mirroring body language, and owning your mistakes.

The students were up on their feet laughing, playing and learning--three things they’ll need to stay strong and prevent burnout as they enter an intense second year of medical school.

Participants at the Milestone zero presentation
two milestone 0 participants
David Ring at milestone 0