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The Rotation’s Most Popular Stories in 2021

By Ben Stanley December 22, 2021

This week, The Rotation blew out a candle, celebrating its one-year birthday on December 20.

For most med students around the world, it has been another year shaped by the COVID pandemic, remote learning, and a changing perspective on medical education shaped by a changing world. 

At The Rotation, we have sought to understand better that world med students inhabit, talking to med students from around the world and the practicing physicians and academia who inspire and teach them. We found an audience engaged with what we saw and appreciated your feedback and insights into what life has been like. 

Today we share our top five stories of the year and the one we’re proudest of writing. Thanks for reading in 2021; keep your eyes peeled for even more next year.


1. The End of the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam, And What It Means for American Medication Education (published January 29, 2021)

For American med students and physicians hoping to practice in the United States, the removal of the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills kicked 2021 off with a slice of positive news. Like the COMLEX-USA Level 2 Performance Examination for osteopathic students, the expensive, increasingly unnecessary exam finally met its end in January. COVID was the ultimate culprit, intervening before common sense could. Our deep dive into it was The Rotation’s most popular in the last year. 


2. Jonny, On The Spot: The New Face of Space Medicine (published December 20, 2020)

We launched The Rotation with an in-depth profile of astronaut Jonny Kim, a former Navy SEAL and emergency medicine resident selected for NASA’s Artemis program to send people back to the moon. Kim’s story is inspirational, making him a little bit of a poster boy for the next generation of American med students.


3. History, Race, Time, And The Father of Gynecology (published July 7, 2021)

For generations, gynecologists have used the speculum as one of their essential tools in practicing women’s health. Though a simple tool, it has saved countless women from unnecessary suffering. Invented by a pro-Confederate Alabamaphysician in the 1840s, the speculum was developed from experimentation occurring on Black slaves. This summer, we told the story of J. Marion Sims and the complicated history of the speculum.


4. Med School Down Under: Becoming A Doctor in Australia and New Zealand (published February 26, 2021)

For most places worldwide over another year plagued by the ongoing global pandemic, the thought of living in Australia and New Zealand—two Pacific nations more lightly touched by COVID—has been mightily appealing. Studying medicine there has sounded just as good. February saw award-winning Kiwi journalist Naomi Arnold explore what future physicians go through Down Under.


5. The Wild True Story of the First Match Day And Its Hero: A Maverick Ex-Carrier Pilot from New Orleans (published March 19, 2021)

The man met the moment when it came to the first-ever residency match day in America. A former aircraft carrier pilot studying medicine at Harvard, New Orleans’ William Hardy Hendren III, challenged a flawed early 1950s algorithm used to determine where American med students would specialize. The story is a beauty. Hendren—who is still living—is its hero.


Editor’s pick: ‘We’re Losing Every Aspect of Medicine’: The Past, Present, And Future of Healthcare in Afghanistan (published September 12, 2001)

Late summer news headlines were dominated by the return of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Images of packed military cargo planes captured the desperation of a moment that has felt inevitable for years. But what of Afghani health care and medical education in the absence of international support? The Rotation found a grim situation that could send Afghani medicine back decades, especially for women and children.


Deep dives into real issues impacting medical education, brought to you by OnlineMedEd.



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