8 Things you need to know about Medical School

Cramming is bad.

Everyone does it, but it doesn’t help you learn. To me, learning is understanding the concepts, not memorizing the words. Even anatomy and pharmacology were about memorizing relationships. They still are. I learn directions by seeing where things are on a map and by relating those things to the place I am going. I am  learning medicine in the same way.
I also used to try to read ahead in the books so that when a professor addressed a subject and I didn’t understand it, I could ask questions in class about it. Didn’t always work out that I could read ahead, but when I did, it seemed to help my understanding and retention.

Get copies of old tests.

This is very important! Most professors are not industrious enough to create new questions for each exam. And there are only so many questions you can ask about the same topic. Therefore, many questions are repeated. Some may have wording changes, but most questions have the same concepts. By learning and understanding what concepts appeared on previous tests and are therefore important to the professor, you’re well on your way to learning the concepts — and passing the tests.

Medical school goes by quickly

Before you know it, you’ll be marching across a stage to accept your medical degree. Medical school may seem to fly by because with all the information to learn, skills to master, and clinical rotations to adjust to, you’re so focused on getting through the next challenge that you’re barely aware of the time passing.

After you’re in internship, your med school days may already start to seem distant as you take on new responsibilities. In the midst of your intern year, you may even look back at med school with nostalgia and think about how easy you had it back then!

Medical school is difficult

The fact that med school is difficult isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, yet many students are still surprised by just how overwhelming the workload is. Your schedule during the first two years of medical school is almost entirely filled with intense courses like anatomy, physiology , biochemistry, and pharmacology.When you do feel overwhelmed, keep in mind that you’ve undergone intense scrutiny before achieving a place in med school. If you’ve made it this far, you have good reason to believe you’ve got what it takes to get through.

Eat and sleep when you can

When you’re on clinical rotations, even things that most people take for granted, like eating and sleeping, can present a challenge. If you have the chance to eat, take it. The same goes for sleeping, going to the bathroom, or any other necessity.If the resident tells you to grab lunch or dinner, go do it even if you aren’t quite ready to eat and would rather wait an hour. In an hour, you may be in the midst of a new admission or scrubbed in with the team for an emergency surgery.As for sleep, if you’re on call overnight and things are very busy, you may not get the opportunity to even lie down. When you have the chance to rest, take it.

You can be a medical student and still have a life

Being a medical student doesn’t mean that you have to forgo all leisure time, give up your hobbies completely, and put your relationships on hold for the next four years. You’ll be busy in medical school, but maintaining your life outside of school is still possible (and highly advisable).Although it may not feel like it, taking an hour to go work out or spending an evening hanging out with friends won’t put your grades in mortal jeopardy. In fact, downtime helps to prevent burnout and may allow you to be more productive when you get back to the books.

Organization is key

Studying at university is a real contrast to being a student at school and one of the real challenges is organizing your work and activities. You can no longer rely on your parents to keep a calendar of everything that’s going on and instead you must sort things for yourself. The most important thing is to have some kind of system, whether it is a paper diary you keep with you or a calendar on your phone. Make sure you’re not the one who is always nearly missing things or running round at the last minute trying to work out where you’re supposed to be.

Most of your peers will be very intelligent

Medical students represent an extremely limited selection of people your age and they will tend to be both very capable and hard working. This can sometimes result in you feeling rather demoralized when comparing yourself to other medics, especially as you will tend to notice the ones working harder than you more than the rest. Remember, the people you are comparing yourself to represent the very top fraction of students in the country and as such you should not be disheartened if some of them are better than you. In fact there will be plenty of other medical students at the same level as you who are making the most out of university to develop themselves as a person, not just as a student.Being a medical student puts you in a very privileged position, among the very top students across the country. It generally seems to be the case that medics follow the mantra “work hard, play hard”. Most importantly, remember that being a student is not only a means to an end, but an end in itself. Make sure you make the most of being an undergraduate!

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