The 5 Worst Mistakes You Can Make During Med School

Alexa M. Mieses, MD, MPH


October 31, 2017

3. Do Not Be a 'Gunner'

Nobody wants to be a gunner. But what exactly is a gunner? Often, one thinks of the stereotypical student who dares to switch dissection pins on another student's cadaver or hides textbooks. Although these acts are quite egregious, they describe an antiquated image of a gunner. Today, gunning looks a little different.

First and foremost, medicine is about being part of a team. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel that way as a medical student. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your learning. Furthermore, medical school can often reward a more individualistic way of thinking.

Students commonly feel in competition with one another, especially during third year, where pass/fail grades are things of the past and everyone is vying for a finite number of honors grades. This incentivizes some students to do such things as make sure they are the first to arrive and last to leave the hospital, ask questions simply for the sake of asking questions (even though they know the answer), or refuse to help out a fellow classmate. Not only will this behavior cost you friends, but a lack of team-oriented approach to your profession is not the mark of an honorable physician.

4. Do Not Give Up Your Hobbies

It is easy to get caught up with memorizing facts, practicing clinical skills, trying to be a team player who supports fellow classmates, and studying for high-stakes exams, all while maintaining your personhood. But you should strive to maintain your personhood!

You must remember that you're an individual. You must remember what brought you to medicine in the first place. One way to do this is to continue to engage in hobbies or extracurricular activities that gave you pleasure before medical school. Whether it's exercising, mentoring premedical students, cooking, or reading for fun, keep up with the activities that let you blow off steam and have some time to yourself.

Striving to maintain work/life balance will be a challenge throughout life. It is a challenge for almost everyone—not just physicians. Therefore, just like with studying, the more practice you have with balancing work and your personal life, the better you will become at doing so.


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