5 Tips for Success in Medical School

Emily Kahoud


May 10, 2019

Many of us first-year medical students have just about made it to the summit of our M1 years. For those of us on an organ system schedule, we have about a block or so to go before the summer. It's a perfect time to reflect. Before embarking on the med school journey, I vowed to do it as healthily and happily as possible. Here is what I've learned from my own experiences and from others relaying theirs to me.

Tip 1: Make Eating, Exercising, and Sleeping Your Best Friends

Regardless of anything else, prioritize these practices. It is not always easy to achieve but is essential to maintain the equilibrium you need. This ain't a sprint, it's a marathon! Meal prep on weekends. A grain, a bean, and a green can help power you through even the craziest, most rushed, and stressful of weeks.

Tip 2: Take a Step Back

Sometimes, you have to give yourself a little break for the betterment of your sanity. Perfectionism is truly the enemy of the great. Even if you think you can be perfect on paper, you can't be perfect in real life. So it's better to get used to that fact earlier rather than later.

Tip 3: Don't Live Around the Clock on Campus

It's important to get away from campus in your free time, not just when you're being forced to. A change of surroundings—even when you're there just to study—can feel like a vacation and work wonders for that nagging feeling that you're trapped in the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.

Tip 4: Make Friends, and Then Make More Friends

Med school can be very cliquey. People don't like to branch out once they find their niche; however, branching out forces you to go outside your comfort zone, which your professional life will soon require of you. Get to know as many people as possible, because we have a lot to learn from each other. You never know what the person sitting near you has to offer in terms of wisdom and experience until you open up a conversation with them.

Tip 5: Study Smarter, Not Longer

This is a great lesson to learn, especially before you approach your second year with the abominable Step 1 exam looming. Lecture review can be extremely passive; you can easily deceive yourself into thinking you know a lot more than you do. Test yourself. Test your friends. Have them test you. That is when the real learning begins.

This list could go a lot longer, but, instead, I'll leave you with this final thought:

Sometimes less is more. People tend to overwhelm themselves. The goal is to make it through, not burn yourself out before you do.

Remember the old fable about the tortoise and the hare? That's still relevant here. Slow and steady wins many a race. Often, those who start the marathon by sprinting are the first to burn out. Don't let that happen to you. Pace yourself. Because only then will you have time to take it all in, observe and recalibrate as needed, and appreciate just how far you've come in this humbling, yet gratifying, journey.

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