As of last week, I officially finished my first term of medical school. I have never worked this hard at anything in my life, but I have also never been happier! I am grateful every day for the support of my friends and family and the opportunity to pursue the career of my dreams.
I have learned so much both inside and outside of the classroom during the past thirteen weeks, and I’ve decided to share some of this knowledge with y’all today. This information can’t be found in Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy or Langman’s Medical Embryology. Rather, the following points are lessons I learned through experience—these are lessons I need to keep in mind as I continue my medical education.
- Taking care of yourself should be a top priority.
- Get at least 6 hours of sleep each night, and try to go to bed around the same time every evening. My dad has been telling me this for years, and I finally understand why!
- Do your best to eat well-balanced meals that are evenly spaced throughout the day. My friend, Carolyn, has been a huge help with this one. She’s always checking in on me and offering advice on how to eat well on a budget.
- Find a physical activity you enjoy doing, and make it part of your routine. Exercising regularly has significantly increased my energy throughout the day while also alleviating my stress and anxiety.
- Go outside to get some sun and fresh air every once in a while. This is a must for me! Sitting at a desk in a building with no windows for 16 hours a day can depress even the happiest person.
- Remember that every student learns and, therefore, studies differently. Find a few study methods that work well for you, and stick to them.
- Group study sessions can be helpful as a means to review once everyone has a basic understanding of the material, but they are not an effective way to begin learning new content. This was a difficult concept for me to grasp since I have always done the majority of my studying in a group setting.
- Choose your study partners wisely. Some classmates will try to take advantage of your strengths, while others will attempt to exploit your weaknesses purely to make themselves look better. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
- You will never feel like you know everything, because there will always be more you could learn (such is the nature of medicine). Study as much as you can, walk into each exam with confidence, and trust your gut. You probably know more than you think you do.
- The friendships you make in medical school will be some of the fastest and strongest you ever make. Your classmates are the only people who really understand what you are going through on a daily basis, so you’ll quickly become each other’s support system. I don’t think I’ve ever bonded with someone as quickly as I did with Carolyn and Vaishali, two of my best friends here at PCOM.
- You deserve to take a break every once in a while, so pick one night a week to grab drinks with a friend, go for a hike, or spend a couple hours blogging at a coffee shop. Otherwise, you will get burnt out very quickly. Shopping, downloading new music, and making travel plans for the summer are a few other activities I enjoy doing when I need a break.
- You can’t be the president of five student organizations, and you won’t be able to make it home for every birthday, wedding, or holiday celebration. You have to prioritize and learn when to say no. You simply can’t do everything.
- Your family and friends will understand that you can’t talk all the time or attend every event to which they invite you, but don’t shut them out of your life completely. Give them a call when you can – even if you only have a few minutes.
- There are going to be some bad days, but the good days will outweigh the bad ones in more ways than you can even imagine.
Medical school has the potential to be the most stressful and difficult four years of my life, but it could also be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of my life as well. The choice is mine, and I’m making the most of it!