Top Resources and Tips to Honor Your Family Medicine Rotation

Top Resources and Tips to Honor Your Family Medicine Rotation

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So you’re about to start your family medicine rotation. What resources do you use? How do you study? How do you do well in the rotation?  In this post, I’ll cover my top resources and tips to use during the rotation.

Now before I begin I’ll begin with the caveat that I have not taken my shelf yet. My school allows me to delay it until later in my third year. So take my advice with whatever amount of salt you want.

I must also add that Family Medicine has the reputation of being a fun but tough rotation.For one, the field is very broad. You must be well learned in a variety of specialties that you may not have had exposure during pre-clinicals.

Remember all the dermatology you learned during your second year? Now will be the time to see how well you know your rashes. Remember all the maneuvers on a knee or shoulder exam? Now’s the time to find out the answer is no. 🙂

Family medicine is a great rotation but you’ll be on your heels every day. This, in my opinion, is the best way to learn and learn quickly. Enjoy the rest of the blog and enjoy your rotation.

I’ll also have an $80 discount for a resource I love to use just for my readers! Read till the end!


I’ve used OnlineMedEd for previous rotations, but I found it the most useful during family medicine rotation. With all there is to know, OnlineMedEd was perfect to focus on the high points.

My school provided a free premium subscription during my 4-week rotation. If you can’t afford it no sweat. The videos (which are very good) are still free!

If you can afford it, I think the videos and notes are where the money is. Download the notes (which are 1-2 pages per topic) and keep them on your laptop and/or tablet.

If you’re interested in OnlineMedEd, use this promo code: MDJourney25 to get a 25% discount! It is valid for annual memberships only (Core and PA).

With the premium access, my school also gave a sample study plan which you can see below.

Family Medicine Rotation

If you’re not someone who learns from reading a text, OnlineMedEd is a great tool to use.

Watching the videos on a scheduled basis will help serve as your foundation. Then use the notes to review the topics. Combine this with practice questions and you’ll be golden for the shelf and rotation.

Case Files Family Medicine:

Case Files Family Medicine, Fourth Edition

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Case Files because I find their questions to be subpar. For the family medicine rotation, however, I found the text to be quite good.

Again if you’re looking for something simple, to the point, and relatively short, Case Files is a great addition.

Attempt to finish the text in the first 2-2.5 weeks of the rotation. That’s about 3-4 cases a day. Spend the rest of the time doing practice questions.

Depending on how busy your rotation is it can be hard to fit in study time. Try to do a case before you leave your apartment in the morning. Then perhaps another one during lunch. Knock out the final 1-2 cases before you call it a night. Use the weekend if you find yourself getting behind schedule.

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NBME Practice Tests:

These are relatively new. It’s surprising to think there was never practice NBME tests before. Not sure why it took so long.

Regardless the tool is out there, thus I recommend you take advantage to see how comfortable you are with the variety of topics which can show up on the test.


Now there is not a specific section in the UWORLD just for family medicine. So you can either do internal medicine questions or focus on FM areas you may struggle with.

Particular topics in UWORLD such as dermatology, rheumatology, ObGyn, and preventative medicine may be a good place to start if you’re short on time.

AAFP Podcast:

This may not help you on the boards but it will help you look smarter in front of your attendings. These are short 15-30 min podcasts which go over the most recent addition of American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

They are easy to follow and entertaining.

I would just go to the most recent episodes with common topics I was likely to see in the clinic (hypertension, diabetes, chronic pain, etc.).

If you have to do some form a presentation for your rotation, the podcast may highlight a recent study or topic you can talk about.

I would listen to one at 1.5-2x speed on my drive to the clinic. This was a good way to get into my family medicine mode of thinking.

Here’s a link to their homepage. 

Make Your Own Cheat Sheet:

There are some things that you need to always be ready to know. Immunization guidelines, antibiotic ladders, diabetes management, and hypertension control are some common ones.

To ease your anxiety create a cheat sheet on one piece of paper which lays down the basic. For example, list the steps of diabetes management. What treatment do you start with, what the max dose you can go, what are the side effects, and what do you add next if it doesn’t work?

Do these with other common topics so you’ll have something to refer to avoid forgetting the basics.

Eventually, you’ll memorize these guidelines and you won’t need the paper. This means you’ll be closer to being prepared for the shelf.

Consolidate Your Patient’s Problems (Limit them to 3-5):

If you’re at a clinic where the patients are regulars, expect them to come in with a laundry list of issues. Seeing their doctor only once a year reminds them of every little rash/ache they have.

It’s your job as the student to prioritize the list of concerns. Which are important to address today? Which can you hold off until the next visit?

I would have a rule of 3-5. My job was to present the top 3-5 issues that both the patient and I find to be an issue. Often this is uncontrolled BP, diabetes control, acute/chronic pain, or psychogenic issues.

During my presentation, I would state at the beginning that the patient has “x” amount of problems they’re here to discuss. I would then go through each problem and provide a brief but pertinent history for each one.

This will also help when it’s time to think of your assessment and plan. If you break it down by problem you can focus on solving each problem one at a time. If a patient comes in with hypertension, diabetes, and a rash then I can think of my solutions for each one. Presenting it systematically will make you appear more organized and ultimately lead to better patient care.

Efficiency is Key:

A family medicine clinic is notoriously busy. My attending, who I worked with for four weeks, spent 30-45 minutes with each patient. This was wonderful to see, but it also meant we were often running behind schedule. The patients in the afternoon would often wait over an hour to see him. Clearly, they didn’t mind enough because they knew he would give them the same amount of attention.

As the med student, I had to make sure I didn’t worsen the delay. Thus it was important to be able to go into a room and identify my 3-5 problems.

If I had a talkative patient I had to transition from open-ended questions to simple “yes” and “no” very quickly.

As you’re talking to them, think of what you want to be looking for in your physical exam. Everyone should have their hearts and lungs listened to, but what else?

Have a templated and quick head to toe exam you always do. Then provide extra attention to the areas of concern. For example, if the patient has shoulder pain make sure you do all the maneuvers you can think of to narrow your differential.

I would aim to complete every interview (including the exam) in 20 minutes. This may seem too little or excessive based on how fast your clinic moves – adjust accordingly.

These were my top tips for the family medicine rotation. I will update this post when I take the shelf to give better insight. I loved my FM rotation and hope, with these tips, that you do too!

Again here’s a link for $80 off for an annual subscription of OnlineMedEd! Just use Code OME17 at checkout! (This is an affiliate link at no additional cost to you!)

Check out similar tips for other rotations below!

Internal Medicine
Family Medicine

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You may also enjoy the following posts!

How to Study For Rotations In Medical School (Step-By-Step Method)
Top 7 Tips For Third Year Of Med School (How To Do Well)
How to Present Your Patients in Medical School:
How to Study for Clinical Rotations in Medical School:
How to Write Notes in Medical School (Step-by-Step method):
How to Build Strong Relationships with Your Patients:

Until next time, my friend…

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