advice for incoming first year medical students

Congratulations to all you incoming first years!! It really is such a great accomplishment that you’ve made it this far. Welcome to the beginning of your professional career! It’s going to be quite a ride and you’ll probably go through an entire spectrum of emotions on a daily basis but it really is all worth it if you’re here for the right reasons.  Below I’ve included some advice on how to prepare for the first year of medical school.

Some resources I found to be really helpful were:
  1. First Aid – It helped me put everything into the context of the “big picture.”
  2. Essential Anatomy – The app is really helpful for visualizing the muscles and studying origins/insertions/function/innervation/irrigation, especially when you’re not physically in the anatomy lab.
  3. Notability or OneNote – Most of my classmates used either Notability or OneNote for taking notes but I’m not that tech savvy and I learn most when I write things out. And since most of our lecturers used PowerPoints or PDFs of the lectures, I took notes directly on those in class and made one page handwritten outlines for each lecture at home afterwards.

The best way to figure out study methods/materials is to talk to second years in your program. Study methods vary greatly depending on if you’re on a block schedule or if you’re taught by subject. Remember that what works for someone else may not work for you and that’s completely okay. And also remember that there will be times (sometimes every day) when you feel like everyone knows everything and you’re the dumbest person in the class. Let me tell you a secret: everyone in your class feels that way, even the gunners. Don’t let it freak you out. Just do you and help out your classmates when you can. Ask for help when you need it. There’s no shame in needing others. Most medical schools are very different from the “every person for themselves” mentality that most of us are used to from undergrad. Sure you’ll have a couple of those annoying people but for the most part you work as a team so learn to lean on your cohort when you need it.

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what med students feel

A few years ago my husband, then fiancé, gave me the book What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Danielle Ofri, MD. I had been on this journey to becoming a physician for some time and had received wonderful advice and education from my undergraduate professors and mentors about a career in medicine. However, being the emotional person I am, I was unsettled by the lack of advice regarding dealing with the emotional difficulties of the field. My husband had previously read this book and thought it would help me navigate the next step of my path to becoming a physician and he was definitely right.

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