Medical students are required to move frequently. In fact, it is not uncommon for medical students to not even know what state they will be a resident of in the near future.

There are usually three times during a medical student’s career that they are unsure where they will be living only months into the future: The start of medical school, the third and fourth year during medical school rotations, and post-graduate medical residency training. Competitive medical school admissions result in most students applying to many programs.

COMP-Northwest students apply from states all over the US as well as from countries all over the world.

The second occasion in a medical student’s career is during the transition from the pre-clinical years (the first and second year of medical school) to the clinical years. During this time, the students transition into hospitals and medical clinics full time for the duration of their medical school education. The first two years of medical school resemble traditional school in the sense that there are lectures, tests, reading assignments, anatomy labs, etc. This is the time when the student studies to learn as much as they can about the human body and how it works, as well as the study of diseases, pharmacology, and how to interact with patients.

The third and fourth year of medical school in the clinic is more like a job internship. This is the time when the student begins to actually see patients, and begins to apply all of the knowledge that they have accumulated over the past two years.

In January, my second-year medical school class will be participating in a rotation lottery. This will determine where we will live starting in June of 2016, when we start our third year rotations.  There are roughly 100 students in our class and roughly 100 rotation sites throughout the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to Tacoma, Washington. In order to establish a rotation slot for COMP-Northwest students, there needs to be an established health hospital or clinic and a doctor that is willing to take on students.

The local Samaritan system has several slots for students to complete their rotations, but not enough for all of the students in our class. As a result, the school has established partnerships with other hospitals in cities including Salem, Portland, and Bend. Because many students left family and connections in these places to move to Lebanon to begin their training, many desire to return to their home locations for rotations.

Historically, students at COMP-Northwest have been willing to work together to achieve compromise in order for everyone in the class to have the best chance at landing in a geographic location and hospital system that they desire. I am blessed to be a part of a class that has strong student government leadership that is currently in the process of facilitating a mock lottery to achieve this collaboration. The rotations department at COMP-Northwest does an incredible job of establishing new partnerships with hospitals and clinics, and with navigating the process of scheduling individualized schedules for more than 100 students, in order that we may all meet graduation requirements on time. My family and I are eager to know where we will be living seven months from now!

As Dean Crone constantly reminds us, at the end of the day all of our training is for the purpose of taking the best care of our patients that we can

Jonathan Shader is a second-year student at COMP-Northwest who plans on becoming an ophthalmologist.