Before starting my clinical rotations, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on some small details that made my life a lot easier in 1st and 2nd year. Hopefully these will be of use to some future docs out there as well. First and foremost, always have a pen and some type of notepaper for jotting notes, diagrams, or formulas. I can’t tell you how many times important testable material will be at your fingertips one second, and gone the next. Next, try to never skip breakfast and always keep snacks on hand. There’s nothing worse than a stomach growling in the middle of lecture. Wait…unless it’s not coming from your stomach…way worse. Speaking of horrible sounds during lecture, you rarely want to be the cougher/sneezer. I know we all enter med school with the mentality that we want to cure the world of all illnesses no matter what the sacrifice. You’ll find this mindset does not exist in lecture. Try to stay healthy by consuming some fruits/ veggies, and make sure you’re exercising regularly. It will not only keep you healthy, but exercise will prevent mental fatigue during those long days ahead. Also, consider meditation or yoga, they really work!
When I think of labs and small groups, I remember coffee being a great idea. Labs, or small groups are typically held first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day. They usually count for participation, so you want to try your best to at least have your eyes open and try to contribute something. It really helps to be caffeinated. Also, come prepared for lab. Assign one day during the week when you complete all of your lab/ small group assignments. This will not be the end of the world, I promise. Do not wake up the morning of the lab and try to complete everything. While tempting, this method will only lead to panic and headaches.
Finally, let’s discuss exam preparation. You will find that in med school it becomes more difficult to cram for an exam, especially when it is shortly followed by several other fairly challenging exams. I always thought writing out a schedule was very helpful during this time. About two weeks before an exam approached I would schedule time to review previous material from several classes every evening, so when exam time finally came, it really did not feel like the end of the world anymore. The information seemed recent, and my nervous breakdown was averted.
If you’re about to start MS1 or MS2, good luck, and stay strong, you can do it!