5 Things I Never Learned in Med School

Krishna B. Patel, MD


August 22, 2016

3. How to Take Ownership of Your Own Learning

One of the differences between medical school and residency is that your learning is monitored while you are in medical school. You are given an exam every few weeks to ensure that you have gained a mastery of the material taught to you. In residency, nobody is monitoring what you study or how much you have studied; nobody tests you in periodic intervals to ensure that you have not fallen behind. Rather, residency provides you with the opportunities to learn and excel, but it is up to you to seize these opportunities.

To succeed in residency, you must be responsible for your own learning. Be determined to make—and stick to—your own study schedule. Take advantage of the opportunities given to you: Apply for scholarships and grants, go to conferences and network, and give talks and presentations whenever the chance arises.

4. How to Turn Challenges Into Opportunities

You will face many challenges during residency, whether it's a difficult patient, getting along with coworkers, or merely balancing the burden of a rigorous schedule and workload. During these times, it is often hard to see the silver lining. But remember that each of these opportunities allows you to become a better resident, coworker, and physician.

When you are dealing with a patient who has a challenging diagnosis that requires a lot of attention and management, take close notice of the pathology that you are seeing. Understand that it may be something rare, so read up and also learn from the patient. Use this as an opportunity to write up a case report. During those times when you are really feeling the weight of your schedule, remember that it is helping you become a more efficient and competent physician, and that by the time you are done with your training, you will be ready to handle whatever comes your way when you are practicing without supervision as an attending. Every challenge you come across now will only help you become stronger in the future!


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