Kim My Li, M.S., and Michael Bi, M.S. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
The start of the first year of medical school is both exhilarating and terrifying: you are well on your way to becoming a physician and entering the clinical world, but now you are surrounded by students who survived and achieved in the same pre-medical classes, medical school applications, interviews and MCAT as you did. It’s easy to be overwhelmed during medical school, especially the first year: adjusting to the depth and amount of classwork, balancing extracurricular activities and making time for yourself. However, a keyword to keep in mind as you navigate through medical school is to PACE yourself.
Medical school, especially the preclinical years, will be quite draining and it’s easy to get bogged down and push your personal health aside. Lectures, OSCEs, exams and anatomy labs really make you feel like you don’t have too much time for yourself. However, keeping yourself healthy will allow you to efficiently function day-to-day and be more productive. Take time to exercise, eat healthy and reflect on the broader scope of what you’re
Step 1, class rank, residencies, specialties are probably some of the most common words you will hear throughout medical school. There is an analogy that medical school is like “drinking from a fire hydrant.” The amount and pace of the information can be overwhelming at times, and it’s easy to get hung up over details or get upset over one bad test grade. However, from an academic standpoint, it’s important to learn the coursework and apply it in the clinical setting. Keeping a big picture mentality will allow you to grasp key concepts, and studying efficiently will help you make the most use of your time (concept mapping is one of many studying methods that you can utilize; check out our resources below to learn more about it).
Some medical students come into medical school with a career choice in mind: orthopedic surgery, radiology and pediatrics, just to name a few. While some medical students do eventually go into their desired careers, many students switch interests, especially during and/or after their third year rotations. Your decision on a specialty choice will take into account many factors outside your Step 1 score such as: job stability, family life, location and much more. If you do have an interest in a certain specialty, seek it out, join a student interest group or set up a shadowing experience; however, keep an open mind.
Many medical schools have clubs and various organizations (anesthesiology student interest group hint, hint...). Being involved is a great way to take a break from studying and join groups that you have a genuine interest in. But sometimes it’s easy to get too involved and join various groups that you might not be able to fully commit to. Take time to look at all the groups: inquire about meeting times, officer positions and events that the club might hold throughout the year. Also, keep true to your interests and be honest with yourself about your goals.
As you make your way through your preclinical years, make sure to reflect and congratulate yourself for getting into medical school in the first place! The journey is just beginning. Although medical school can be daunting and time consuming, you’ll become more comfortable with the rigor and setting your own pace and goals. Whichever specialty you decide to choose, don’t lose sight of what you set out to accomplish. Work hard, explore your interest and enjoy the journey!
Resources: Concept Mapping - http://www.ttuhsc.edu/som/success/nonttuesp_cm_unit.aspx
posted summer 2015