As an enthusiastic pre-med, I had one thing on my mind…GETTING INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL. I never really looked past that. Tbh, that is all I thought about and all I fantasized out…opening up that big white envelope that starts with. “Dear Rebecca, We are pleased to accept you into ______ MD program…”
But then it actually happened, I got my acceptance letter. And thus began the medical school craziness.
Now that our M1 year has come to a close, I’m looking back on all the things that went well and not so well. So I’ve collected and compiled my most tactile tips to prepare and succeed in your first year of medical school.
- Enjoy your freedom. In the weeks leading up to school starting I was SO NERVOUS/STRESSED about all the things I had to buy and fill out (holy paperwork) before classes began. AND I was stressed out about getting settled into a new city. Looking back, I wish I would have just enjoyed the freedom that I had. So—Just take a deep breath and RELAX. It is going to be the last time in a while that you will have nothing to do.
- When classes do begin…Do NOT fall behind. It sounds so simple, but it is VERY easy to get behind when you have multiple hours of dense lecture everyday. Stay on track with your studying from the beginning. I looked at my study schedule as a full-time job. Class stuff (whether it was lecture or studying) from 8ish until 6ish. Then I took the rest of the night off. You don’t have to stay up until 2am or anything crazy like that if you really make it a priority to stay on top of your schedule.
*Plus, I have the sleeping habits of an elderly woman, so staying up until 2am is just insane to me. Bed by 10, up by 5:30…erryday.
4. Work smarter, not harder. Take advantage of your most productive hours of the day. I am most productive in the morning, so that is when I did the bulk of my intense studying. I saved the less-intense stuff (busy work) for the evening.
5. Get control of your time management skills. Sit down on Sunday evening and plan out your entire week. Write out what classes/exams/clinicals you have, write out what personal stuff/volunteering you have to do…Just write it all out!!!!!!!! It will make your week feel a lot less chaotic.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, INCLUDING SLEEP. Y’all know that I am VERY passionate about health and fitness in the midst of a busy life. Take time everyday to EXERCISE. Take time to the grocery shop and prepare healthy meals. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. ALL OF THE ABOVE. It is so important and will help lower those stress levels.
7. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t try to multitask, it’s not going to work. When you sit down to study one thing, BE ALL IN. Give that task 100% of your effort. It is harder than it sounds, but it will really help you to be a more efficient studier and you’ll end up getting more done in the long run.
8. Remember why you started this long journey in the first place. Something that our Dean told us to do, that I TOTALLY recommend is to write down exactly why you want to be a doctor in the first place. Do this before you start school. And when life gets hard and school is kicking your booty, come back to this letter and read it. It will help to give your perspective.
9. Make friends. I totally thought that everyone in med school was going to be a Type A, psycho-studier that i would never get along with. I was SO wrong. My classmates are amazing. Seriously, i never thought i would meet such amazing people in med school. Get out there, and spend time with your classmates.
10. Make sure you have interests outside of school. My coaching business definitely helped me succeed in medical school because it gave me something to do that was completely unrelated to becoming a doctor. Taking an hour every morning to focus on my coaching business allowed me to not get so darn burnt out with studying constantly.
11. FINAL TIP: Rub essential oil/ Burt’s Bees under your nose before anatomy lab. Trust me.
I hope these tips help you begin to navigate your first year of medical school. It really is such an incredible experience.
YOU’RE LITERALLY GETTING TRAINED TO BE A DOCTOR, It doesn’t get any cooler than that.