A lot of time and attention is devoted to planning away rotations in the spring of 3rd year. Many questions are on students’ minds: Where to go, which rotations to do, when to schedule each rotation. One often overlooked detail that can make or break your experience is your housing choice. After selecting and being accepted to your dream away rotation, it is worth some preparation to find a fitting place to spend your time when away from the hospital. Here are a few details to consider:
Where to find housing
Use any contacts you have at the away institution. Speak with your residency advisor about past students who are current residents at the institution where you will be rotating. You might also try the Dean’s Office for a list of any graduating students who are attending your away institution. Another great resource is the Clerkship Director or Dean’s office of the away rotation. These offices often have a list of available housing for visiting students.
Considering the Housing Options
Several issues should be considered when choosing the best housing option for your away rotation.
Location: Just like when buying real estate, location is often the most important consideration when choosing away rotation housing. Make sure to check the distance (and commuting time) between the house and the hospital where you will be spending most of your time.
Transportation/Parking: If you plan to use public transportation, check the commute time, the distance you will have to travel, and the cost of the commute. If you plan to drive to the hospital, parking must be arranged, both at the hospital and where you are living. When added to the cost of your rent, the cost of parking might make paying higher rent in housing where you can walk to the hospital a worthwhile investment.
Safety: Ask about safety of the neighborhood. This is where having local contacts will be useful. In emergency medicine, you will be working overnight shifts and commuting at night. Do not neglect your personal safety since some hospitals are in dangerous neighborhoods.
Roommates: For many students, roommates, or lack thereof, define a housing experience. You should find out if you will be the only occupant of the house/apartment or if you will be sharing rooms, bathrooms, and/or common living areas with other students or other tenants. For some students, having a roommate is essential, while other students prefer to live alone.
Amenities: Although away housing will never be the same as home sweet home, there are a few amenities that can make being on the road easier. For example, a wireless internet connection can be a necessity, especially during residency application season. If you are on rotation in the summer, the availability of air conditioning is often a make or break amenity. An in-house washer and dryer can save both time and money on laundry. The type of furniture (e.g. bed, desk, bookshelf, dresser) determines if you need to bring some small portable items such as a collapsible bookshelf for reference books. The availability of kitchen appliances such as a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker can cut down on the cost of eating out and allow you to maintain your regular diet. It is also important to find out if you will need to bring your own bed linens and towels in advance of arrival. You should always ask to see photos of the housing before you make your final decision.
Community Features: A perk of an away rotation in emergency medicine is that you will have time off. Ask if there any recreation opportunities available in the community where you will be living during your rotation. For example, are there mountain bike trails, concerts in town, professional sports teams, or friends nearby? Balance the stress of your audition rotation with some relaxation.
A little planning and lots of questions can help you find an affordable and comfortable housing that will set you up for success on your away rotation.
Kevin Jones, MS-IV
MSC - Western Region 4 Representative
Oregon Health & Science University
Medical School, Class of 2010