Students Rotations Planning for Rotations

Planning for Rotations

Training ground

Time to practice your clinical skills

After hitting the books the first two years of medical school, you're ready to begin applying that knowledge during rotations in your third and fourth years.

Core, elective and audition rotations provide an invaluable opportunity to interact with patients and make a positive impression on program directors, attendings and hospital staff. Your experiences on rotations will help you hone in on specialties of interest, start developing your bedside manner and build essential tools for treating patients. You’ll begin setting up rotations during year two of osteopathic medical school, so make sure to prep for success with the tools below.


Core rotations

Third-year students typically complete three four-week clinical rotations and four eight-week clinical rotations. In the fall/winter of your second year, your college of osteopathic medicine (COM) will assist with setting up rotations in the following core areas:

  • Family medicine (eight weeks, although some COMs allow two four-week rotations)
  • General surgery (eight weeks, although some COMs allow two four-week rotations)
  • Internal medicine (eight weeks, although some COMs allow two four-week rotations)
  • OB/GYN (eight weeks, although some COMs allow two four-week rotations)
  • Pediatrics (four-week rotation)
  • Psychiatry (four-week rotation)
  • Emergency Medicine (four-week rotation)
  • OMT (four-week rotation during third year, four-week rotation during fourth year)

Elective rotations

During your third or fourth year of osteopathic medical school, you’ll have the opportunity to complete elective clinical rotations, which can provide experience in specialties or care settings you’re considering for residency training. At many osteopathic medical schools, students arrange their own elective rotations.

In addition to your COM, here are some other places to begin your elective rotation search:

  • Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS): Search for rotation sites by state, specialty and keyword.
  • Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE): Interested in research? Try a research rotation offered through CORE.
  • Medical Conferences: Check with your school for information about upcoming annual specialty medical conferences. Often these conferences include a residency fair where you can speak to program directors. You also can network with DOs during OMED, the AOA’s annual medical education event, which

Audition rotations

An audition rotation is a two- to four-week residency program interview where you’re “auditioning” for a residency position at a hospital or health care center. Although not required, audition rotations give you an opportunity to impress potential residency directors and stand out among the other candidates applying for residency slots. It’s also a time to learn more about a program you’re considering for your residency and to get a strong letter of recommendation.

You’ll set up audition rotations during your fourth year of medical school, but you’ll want to begin applying for these spots during your third year. Many students opt to secure audition rotation at locations where they completed previous rotations.


  • Pro tip: Some of your rotations will likely be near your medical school, but others, particularly elective rotations, may be in a different city or state. If you’re traveling for a rotation where student housing isn’t an option, consider AirBnB or RotatingRoom, a sublet site for students completing rotations.


Back To Top