Pediatrics Clerkship

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General Rotation Information


Course director - Dr. Mitch Harris / Assistant course director - Dr. John Kunzer / Course coordinator - Jennie Elmore Rotation


The exam is a 100-question NBME exam rated as a difficult exam by most. The last two questions or so will have greater than five answer choices, so give yourself plenty of time for those.  Total testing time is 2 hrs 40 min.  Most students find studying from a Peds board review book to be helpful.

CLIPP cases: Online interactive cases covering variety of clinical points (e.g., well-child, newborn, acute or chronic issues).  Cases provide a good review of common problems but are lengthy.  (Don’t use these for last minute cramming!) Students must complete 15 cases by the last week of the rotation.  Info on CLIPP cases will be given out at the start of the rotation.  Dr. Harris recommends to use these as a main study tool, but many students have not found them to be very helpful for exam preparation.

Books/resources to prepare for the test

Most students use one or more of the following books, but which series you use is mostly personal preference.

Q-Bank: Depending on when you have the Peds rotation, you may consider purchasing a year-long subscription to USMLE Q-Bank. These questions are found to be helpful for some students (almost 300 peds questions) in preparing for the shelf exam.

Case Files Pediatrics:  Presents case scenario, then overview of a topic followed by questions.  Covers a lot of bread and butter peds, which is very helpful for the NBME exam. Helpful for the outpatient portion.

Blueprints Pediatrics: This review book is excellent for preparing for the clerkship test and is also a helpful book to have for a short reference for topics concerning your patients.  Also a recommended study aid for Step 2. 

First Aid Pediatrics: Akin to the book you most likely used for Step 1 preparation, this book presents a variety of common topics in pediatrics in outline format.  Found to be helpful by most students for a quick review. It may look big, but it can be finished quicker than you would think.

Appleton and Lange’s Pediatrics: This book is a really good question and answer style text.  It is helpful to test your knowledge base and to find areas that need further work. 

Pretest Pediatrics: Some people preferred this book to Appleton and Lange’s.  This is a little shorter and has fewer questions, and some students feel these questions are easier than those on the NBME exam. It is mostly personal preference. 

Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics: This is the textbook recommended by the clerkship director.  It’s a good investment for those wanting to go on in Peds, but most students do not use it to prepare for the exam.

Resources to use on a daily basis

Your resident tells you to research cystic fibrosis for tomorrow.  Where do you look?

UpToDate – IUSM has free access to UpToDate through the library website, and most hospital EMRs (Riley, Wishard) have direct access once logged in at the hospital. This is an especially helpful resource to use for mini presentations, which your attending may ask you to prepare to present to your team.

Apps for smart phones: Micromedex (useful for looking up drug indications, pediatric dosages, and side effects), various immunization schedules can be downloaded, and Read by QxMD (gives access to many journals, pediatric or otherwise, while on the hospitals wifi)

OVID—if you want a primary journal article about the subject

Team/Ward Assignments


Housestaff (general pediatrics)

Developmental Peds







Infectious Disease



Wards– general peds (excellent teaching rounds, lots of riding the people mover back and forth to Riley for lecture)

Typical Day


7 AM:  Morning changeover…meet with your team to assign new admissions; make sure you are there at 7 to hear any updates from the night float resident so you don’t have to ask the daytime residents to repeat the information

9 AM:  Team rounds…see your patients and have notes mostly written by this time

12PM: Lecture (bring your own lunch)

5PM:  Afternoon change-over…usually only students on call stay beyond this time


Your day can vary widely depending on your clinic/preceptor.  Some students are placed with private pediatricians; others work at Wishard clinics; some spend 1 week in the Wishard or Methodist newborn nursery.  Students generally get 3-5 half-days per rotation of “library time.”  There is also a block of lectures on Wednesday mornings.

8-12AM: morning session

12-1 PM: lunch/travel

1–5PM:  afternoon session

Other tidbits

  1. You’ll have more time and energy to study for the exam during your outpatient month, so take advantage of it. 
  2. Wash your hands like crazy!  It’s very common to get sick on this rotation.
  3. If you are on heme/onc at Riley, make sure to not wear your white coat into patient rooms- they are very dirty and these kiddos are very sick! Stethoscopes are also provided in each room to use for that individual patient.
  4. Dr. Kunzer does a review session during your inpatient month–don’t miss it!  
  5. Have fun!  Ask questions!  Read as much as you can! This is a favorite rotation for many students!