Expert-Recommended Resolutions for Medical Education in 2019

Ryan Syrek, MA


December 27, 2018

2019 Resolutions All Medical Students Should Follow

Resolve to stay socially engaged

Medicine remains a rapidly evolving arena. This includes how care is delivered, the costs of prescription drugs, and the role of physicians in public health issues (from e-cigarette regulation to gun violence). These are all matters influenced by social and political forces. As a group, physicians are less likely to vote than many professionals and even the general public. This is surprising, given that the health sector accounts for a large portion of the gross domestic product and that the cost of and access to healthcare have been leading political issues in recent elections. Staying socially and politically engaged from your early medical training and throughout your career will help you understand and shape your chosen path.

Sarah Averill, MD

Resolve to share your stories and stay grounded

If you are in the clinical years, it is important to tell your stories and share them. This could be through writing, but also easily could be with your friends in school or people you know in medicine. You will see a lot of incredible things as a student doctor and also witness human tragedy. These things affect each of us differently. It is important to stay in touch with the human side of yourself and recognize the feelings you have and help to process them through talking about them with others or through reflective writing/journaling. You must be an advocate. If you see something, say something. You will win friends and develop strong leadership skills if you are someone who suggests solutions to problems rather than just reporting them.

A career in medicine is a lifelong endeavor, and amazingly, many of the things we do for the rest of our careers form their basis in school. This can encompass a lot of things, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits. In terms of education, prioritizing self-directed learning is a critical piece, because only a short portion of your career is in the context of an educational environment.

Keep in touch with your friends and family outside of medicine. At times, this may seem impossible as you become consumed by school. You may even need to write this into your calendar. But staying grounded and keeping your network of people outside of school and your ultimate career is good for you and your health.

Daniel J. Egan, MD

Resolve to improve yourself in areas outside of medicine

Establish a habit of identifying an issue or question that you are puzzled by or curious about that arose out of that day's experience and spending 15-20 minutes exploring it every day. Do something nonmedical that you love at least once a week. Otherwise, make a meal with friends, see a movie, go to an interesting museum or an author reading, or listen to music that you love (or play your instrument). Commit to and sustain reasonable self-care. Sleep at least 7 hours a night when not on call, exercise or take a 30-minute walk, and play a sport at least 3 days a week.

Molly Cooke, MD

Resolve to properly prepare for the USMLE

I advise students to properly prepare for the USMLE Step 1 starting in the first year of medical school. Why? The scores students earn on the USMLE Step 1 are a crucial data point in the residency admissions process, and if students underperform, they can be screened out and unable to match in some competitive specialties and programs.

So, what exactly do I mean by "properly prepare"? After any basic science course, grab a review book and learn what will be on the exam for that subject. Over the summer, review all material learned in the first year of medical school. Repeat this for the second year of medical school. In this way, when students sit down to study "for real" at the end of second year for the exam, they have already reviewed all the material, it is more familiar, and this will position them to earn a higher score.

Jessica Friedman, MD

Resolve to be a team player and enjoy your summer

In medical school, some people treat school like a competition of who can get the best grades. Conversely, in residency, the competition sometimes seems to be who can get out the door earliest! Spending a little extra time to help a classmate identify the glossopharyngeal nerve or helping an overwhelmed fellow resident with an admission can be very rewarding. It's much nicer to be in a place where everyone helps each other.

Also, enjoy your summer! Not all schools give you a summer vacation between first and second year. A lot of students did research or studied up for the next year, and I can't say that doesn't have its benefits. However, that summer vacation ended up being the very last summer vacation I got (over 15 years later). So I'm glad I took the time to relax, do some traveling, and spend time with friends.

Sara Cohen, MD


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