Hello all! I’m coming to you today with a brand new blog post. I was asked by Medelita to write a piece for their blog, Enclothed Cognition, and I am super excited to be featured on their page. Here it is:
I just finished the last final of my first year of medical school earlier today. Surreal to say the least, but needless to say, I am so excited for the upcoming summer break. And it is a much deserved break! I came home and decided to write this post while all of the feelings are still new.
The past year of medical school has been more hectic and fast-paced than I could ever have imagined. I’ve grown so much as a student, as a person, as a partner (to my loving boyfriend!), and of course as a future doctor. In addition to learning how to take a proper cardiology exam or how to use a stethoscope, I’ve learned about myself both as a person and student.
If you are currently applying to medical school, thinking about medicine, starting your first year, or are curious what a year of frenzy looks like, keep reading. The following list encompasses things I learned while embarking on this journey of medicine, and subsequently, what I think any entering student needs to know!!
1. An established study habit
It’s okay to not have a study plan at first. When I started my first semester it took me 3 months before I finally got the hang of things. Med school is completely different from undergrad in that you learn new content daily, rather than 2-3x/week, and you’ll either learn topics by subject (i.e. pathology, microbiology) or systems (i.e. cardiology, renal). Gone are the days where you’re learning genetics and organic chemistry. Now, you’re knee deep in anatomy and pathology (to name a FEW), subjects which require a new set of study skills.
The important thing is to try new things and know when it’s time to scrap the study plans that aren’t working out for you. And trust me, you’ll find out quickly whether or not it’s working for you as soon as midterms roll around #yikes. Check out my blog post if you want more practical tips on how to study and pass your classes!
2. A few good resources
By the end of first week of med school, you will be bombarded with textbooks, flashcards, apps, and resources that students “swear by”. Do not feel like you need to utilize every resource that has been mentioned or handed your way. You will be completely overwhelmed by the amount of resources that, at the end of the day, will all teach you the same thing.
One thing I recommend doing is spending the first week gathering all the resources you can find (my cohort had a circulating flashdrive of them) and skim it. Eventually you will find 1-2 (maximum) resources for each subject that work for you and that you will stick to. I made the mistake of trying to use 4-5 resources per subject to only find myself stressed that I didn’t have enough time to review them all.
3. Find a community
I moved to a new country to start medical school, but I made sure to establish a community. It makes all the difference to know you have support and friends to count on. I joined a local triathlon team, garden with a gardening group, and am part of a tutoring group here on campus that links us up with upperclassmen as mentors. Since I can’t have my family and friends with me wherever I go, I make sure to create my own little community so that I can feel like I am a part of something bigger than just school and studying.
4. Know your non-negotiables
Your life doesn’t revolve around studying; studying revolves around your life. So you need to plan accordingly. What are your non-negotiable activities? Do you need a Sunday off to hang out with friends? Do you feel healthier if you meal prep 2 days out of the week instead of eating out? Do you have to get 1 hour of exercise every morning? Figure out what needs to happen every day and every week for you to function at your best, pencil it in, and block off those areas from your schedule. Seriously. It’s non-negotiable.
5. Give yourself a little Headspace
I am in no way sponsored by this company, I just love what they do. Headspace is a meditation app that gave me access to over 1000 hours of guided meditation. I pay $90/year but it is completely worth it if you need to meditate in order to keep your anxiety in check. My favorite packs include Commuting, Anxiety, Productivity, Balance, Focus, and End of Day.
If you want to read steps 5-10, you can check out my blog post on their website (here!)