Medical school is tough, the amount of information, the change in environment, and the type of material presented are all factors that play a role in how well we do. To be honest I didn’t start out as an A+ student. BUT, once I learned how to tackle the course work, both my test scores and class rank started to improve drastically! Since first year is still fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some of my studying Dos and Don’ts:
- Do find the right study environment for yourself. When I first moved in, I knew that I wanted my room to be my office, so I set it up to look like one. Yes, my queen sized bed with silky sheets was right next to my desk. However, I went in with the mentality of studying from 9-5 PM and relaxing in the evenings. So it worked out perfectly.
- Do study smarter not harder. It took me a while to come to this realization. I would spend hours on a pathway and memorize every single enzyme for my biochemistry course. While that was important, I didn’t understand the overlying concept and come test day I wasn’t 100% sure of the answer.
- Do take breaks. Some weekends, towards the beginning of the year I would spend 12+ hours studying without even getting out of my chair. But I decided to incorporate exercise into my days. My breaks would consist of going to the gym in the mornings or the evenings.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. All of your classmates as did mine will come from different walk of life both personally and academically. I had to recognize my strengths and how they could benefit my life goals.
- Don’t get defeated by low scores. We are given an immense amount of information in a short period of time. There is a learning curve and it will come easier to some compared to others. What’s more important is learning from those mistakes!
- Don’t forget to have fun!!!! Yes, medical school can be fun. Hang out with classmates, attend conferences, or find a hobby.
I hope that my first year life experiences can help calm some of your nerves prior to starting one of the most challenging but exciting chapters of your life!