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Invaluable advice to incoming med student

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Rose122, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. Rose122

    Rose122 Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2003
    If you had received some advice from those already in med school what do you wish they had told you? Is there a particular text book you wish you had mastered, an insight you wish you had learned, something that you learned the hard way? If you have anything to pass onto someone entering medical school next year and could impart your knowledge now is your chance. Enlighten me!!!
    BeachBaby likes this.
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  3. Samoa

    Samoa Physician Pharmacist 10+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2002
    1. There are no shortcuts to learning the material.
    2. The details are important, and anyone or anything that promises to simplify the material is not going to provide enough depth.
    2.1 Having said that, it IS worthwhile to buy a board review book as a course supplement.
    3. Learning objectives are your best friend. Know them, love them, hate them sometimes, but always spend lots of time with them. If your instructors don't provide learning objectives, ask for them.
    4. Even if you made a perfect score on your MCAT verbal, you will need a medical dictionary. For pronunciation, if nothing else. My lab group actually had several discussions over the course of the semester as to the proper way to pronounce certain words. (Yeah, we're nerdier than most.)
    5. If the dictionary lists a pronunciation that's completely different from the one commonly used by your instructors, don't be a dork. Use the local lingo. Just know in the back of your mind that there's another pronunciation, and don't display your ignorance by correcting people who use it.
    6. The 2nd years will drive you nuts with their refusal to tell you exactly what books to buy. This is because there's no perfect text. There's just the required class text, and 20 other textbooks that are just as good. Which pictures do you like better?
    7. Netter vs. Rohen. People tend to advocate vehemently for one or the other. Netter's a better learning tool overall, but Rohen is a better study tool for the practical. I found them both essential.
    8. Get involved in stuff at your school. Don't just study all the time. At the very least, it'll give you something to talk about besides your classes.
    10. Be nice. The world doesn't suddenly revolve around you just because you're going to be a doctor.
    10.1 Never, EVER mistreat the staff at the school. They work there because they like it, not because it pays well.

    That's all I can think of for now.
  4. ckent

    ckent Banned Banned

    Jul 31, 2000
    I'd reccomend either purchasing "First Aid for the Match" or "Iserson's Getting into residency". Getting into a good residency isn't all that different then getting into med school. Get good grades, USMLE, LOR's, and research experience (prob more important for many specialites then it was for getting into med school) is the basic formula. I don't think that residency programs care about the homeless shelter or nursing home volunteer stuff anymore either.
  5. scootad.

    scootad. Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2001
    1. If your school has transcript service, dont bother going to class.

    2. If #1 applies to your school, dont bother with textbooks.

    3. Use review books throughout.

    4. Realize that you will be forced to memorize many details that
    you will forget the second you leave the exam. SUCK IT UP.

    5. Dont listen to classmates who say they "never study"

    6. Study your butt off for Step 1 unless you are sure you wanna be primary care doc or medicine subspecialty.

    7. Dont be an obnoxious jerk on the wards.
  6. AntGod22

    AntGod22 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 9, 2001
    1 . Buy the BRS physiology review book !

    2. take out stock in starbucks coffee, since you will be making them rich every time you have exams !
  7. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Dont let other people's anxiety get to you. Its self-destructive, not usually informative, and not usually reflective of what's really going on.
  8. beanbean

    beanbean 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 19, 2002
    1) There are cheap used medical textbooks on eBay. I was able to get a current edition Rohen atlas in perfect condition for $20. It is an easy way to add a few books to your collection with out breaking your wallet. Check out stuff dor sale here on SDN as well.

    2) If you get to chose your anatomy partners, chose wisely. I have been very fortunate but I have heard some horror stories. DO NOT become lab partners with someone you want to date or are currently dating!

    3) There are some fantastic medical websites out there for histology and anatomy. There are links from several SDN threads and the SDN links page. Others can be found by using google. Some of them offer great self-tests and quizzes.

    4) Board review books are a great help summarizing info before exams. I love the Chung anatomy review and the BRS physiology book.

    5) Take everything a step at a time and enjoy yourself. It is an amazing experience.
  9. Paradox

    Paradox Junior Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Recognize the facade for what it is. Talk is cheap and many times those who want you to believe they are in the top of the class are the very ones who just failed their anatomy exam. Do your own thing and don't get enslaved in the game.
  10. Buck Strong

    Buck Strong Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2003
    State of Bliss
    Watch your back....the gunners are never the one's you think. They're usually not the one's sprouting facts from harrisons and up to date, but rather the ones sitting quietly, watching, absorbing everything and plotting how to steal your Robbins the night before the exam. Oh, and never trust anyone who says "i haven't studied for the exam at all yet, i'm soooo behind, definitely going to fail this block"
  11. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    Medical school is not a cult. With good time management skills you can have time for a family, recreation, exercise, and whatever else it is you like to do. (With the exception of Surgery, OB-Gyn, and Medicine rotations in third year.)

    Time management is critical. When you study, study goddamit and don't get distracted by things like SDN. Know when to quit studying. If you are spending eight hours per day studying and attending every lecture then you have either have problems or you just find the Krebbs cycle fascinating. There is a time in every day to call it quits. Sleep is important. It is dumb to pull all-nighters but especially dumb to lose sleep weeks before an exam.
    HappyLamb likes this.
  12. Samoa

    Samoa Physician Pharmacist 10+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2002
    This is really good advice. There are two ways to study: methodically and at your own pace, OR neurotically, anxious about all the things the people around you seem to know that you don't.

    Oh yeah, and nothing pisses me off more than people who are constantly relying on others to copy missing notesets, tell them what was said in class, what's important to study, when "mandatory" really means mandatory, etc, and who never do anything to help anyone else. I don't mind helping people who are struggling, but leeches are another story entirely.
  13. mfred

    mfred Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    1. take it in stride. it is 4 years long, one grade, and especially one test, will neither make you a great or a poor doctor.

    2. do what works for you. go to class, if it doesn't help, don't go. Read the text, if it doesn't help, stop. This applies to all things that you will be told you should do in school

    3. with regards to number 2, once you decide what works, do it and don't look back. don't feel bad either for not studying enough, for not going to class, or for not reading. If your grades are good enough for you, then that is all that matters.

    4. don't compete. just do what you are happy with.

    5. enjoy life. med school is actually a blessing. if you think of it as some terrible burden you have the wrong attitude.

    6. take everything your classmates say with a grain of salt. they are not just trying to destroy you (most of the time) it is just there are too many anal people in med school and if you get caught up in every crazy little thing you will become freaked out. Just take it in stride. rarely are things as difficult as them seem. and, by the way, if things seem easy they are usually not as easy as they seem.
    redsox93 and APOPTOSIS2019 like this.
  14. CANES2006

    CANES2006 Miami chica 10+ Year Member

    Jan 11, 2002
    Miramar, FL

    This sums up medical school so far for me. When I first started medical school, I thought that I wouldn't have time for anything but studying. While it is true that I do study more in medical school than I did in college, I also party alot more now then I did back then. I guess the saying "work hard and party even harder" applies to medical school. I study pretty hard, work out 3 times a week, and go out 1-2 times a week. Of course, I'm sure that this schedule will drastically change when I start studying for the boards soon. ;)
    HappyLamb likes this.
  15. emedCleo

    emedCleo Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 29, 2003
    The worries that you have about the experience of school will be completely different than the worries you will have when you are actually in school.

    Therefore, try not to obsess about things before you go. Instead, live your months before school as if they are your last days on earth. Learn to surf, bum around on the beach, take a job bartending, have passionate but transient affairs. Live as if your life is a blockbuster movie b/c at school your life could only get televised on PBS or TLC.
    sarpdarp and AnnaSunH like this.
  16. A.D.O.R.

    A.D.O.R. Acronym Lover 7+ Year Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Down the street.
    :laugh: :laugh:

    True for some.
  17. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    Another thing, when you are getting beaten up by first semester classes and have the bulk of four years staring you in the face, resist the temptation for self-pity.

    Attending medical school is a privalege. Just think of all those poor schmucks who will be spending thier whole lives pushing papers around a desk or asking "do you want fries with that." And as bad as it gets, you are not going to end up sprawled on a couch in a reeking single-wide trailer wondering why the government doesn't let you buy beer with foodstamps.

    Don't lose sight of the fact that most people in America work pretty hard. For any profession, the forty hour week is a myth. With this in mind, if you think of medical school as a typical 50-to-60-hour-per week job you will have a much easier time.

    No offense but I think a lot of people go straight form high school to college to medical school and get sort of used to having a lot of time off. Who really puts in anything close to a forty hour week as an undergrad?

    Also, don't worry about it now but stand by for hard work in third year. I was kind of taken by suprise because I had a very low stress first and second year. The first day of third year on my sugery rotation lasted from 5:00 AM until 7:15 PM and involved waking up patients to do a physical and ask them the usual questions, dressing changes, rounding, six hours of surgery, and a lot of pimping. This was a typical day for two months.

    Ob-Gyn was either a little easier or we had just gotten used to it, and medicine was relatively easy but still involved long hours.

    Also, stand by to move to the bottom of the totem pole yet again. You are even lower as a third year then as a first year because you are sheltered from criticism during your first two years. A freshman told me that he was looking foward to third year so he could wear the (short) white coat and finally get some respect.

    Har Har.
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  18. Galaxian

    Galaxian You wanna get high? 7+ Year Member

    Nov 1, 2003
    Secret Military Base
    "A freshman told me that he was looking foward to third year so he could wear the (short) white coat and finally get some respect."

    OMG, that's the funniest thing I've ever heard! Respect and the short white coat don't go hand in hand! It marks you on the ward as lower than snail feces. A friend of mine was once asked-"what restaurant do you work at, that's a really cool SMOCK!" Ever since then, we've called the shorty whitey the "smock of shame," and to tell you the truth, I can't wait until the end of the day when I can take that joker suit off. At least when I'm an intern, I'll have some limited credibility despite my scutmonkey status, and a longer coat, mind you.

    As far as advice for med school... Study hard as hell for step 1, because sadly, a lot of your future career depends on this number, unless you want to be a primary care guy. And of course, work your ass off during third year. No matter how miserable you feel, third year is cake compared to residency (those guys were still working long after they sent me to sleep). And of course, enjoy every moment, because four years will fly by in a flash, and the experience is only enriched by some of the people you share it with.
    HappyLamb and APOPTOSIS2019 like this.
  19. aphistis

    aphistis Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2003
    hSDN Member
    Not <em>every</em> profession... ;)
  20. Buck Strong

    Buck Strong Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2003
    State of Bliss
    Really??? I didn't know dentists had a cushy 40 hour/week lifestyle. You'd think with those hours, they wouldn't be out there committing suicide left and right. Plus, with the cute dental hygenists, I'd be loving life :love:
  21. aphistis

    aphistis Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2003
    hSDN Member
    Yep. The average dentist worked about 37 hours a week last year, according to the ADA. :D Also, the whole suicide thing is bunk. Do a google and you'll find out there's no reliable research supporting it.
  22. Buck Strong

    Buck Strong Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2003
    State of Bliss
    And I thought it was just an urban legend from that movie "The Whole Nine Yards". I think doc's also have a fairly high suicide rate, i'll send you some of my zoloft just in case...:)
  23. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    Did we mention to not buy textbooks until you see what you really need?

    Another thing, get on an exercise program and stick too it. I stopped running during the second half of first year, put on about twenty pounds and felt like crap. I started running again at the beginning of second year and felt pretty darn good every day.

    (But I'm never going to be svelte, you understand)

    I had to give up running when I did my surgery rotation but other then that I make time every day to at least run three miles. I have a couple of dogs who run with me which really keeps me motivated. (Well, I have five dogs, actually, but only two run with me.)

    Also avoid the temptation to live on coffee, doughnuts, and fritos.
    HappyLamb likes this.
  24. HouseHead

    HouseHead Powdered Floor Queen 10+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    If you get behind on something in anatomy, skip to what is being currently studied. In other words, stop trying to read the abdomen section of Moore if you're already dissecting the foot. You can always go back to the stuff you've skipped; you'll likely have to anyway.
    If your school uses the shelf exams as finals, study from First Aid and other USMLE-oriented books. There was so much stuff on our anatomy and biochem finals that wasn't covered in class, yet I was at least familiar just from having read BRS (for anatomy) and First Aid. Also read Underground Clinical Vignettes after having reviewed for the shelf; they often have stuff in there that you will see on the test.

    Like someone else said, try everything in the beginning (go to class, read the books, &c.), figure out what works for you, and cut out the rest. One of my tour guides from orientation kept singing the praises of the Netter flashcards, so I got them; because I spent a good chunk of time on trains and buses every day, they turned out to be a very good investment. They were also good in lab, when one of the readers (lab partners not cutting) could have them in their pocket as quick references when needed.

    I also really like Rohen for reviewing for the practicals, since I didn't spend any time in lab outside of the scheduled lab periods. Btw, it was probably a bad idea for me not to spend more time in lab- my practical grades definitely brought my average down.

    Do get involved. I went to the initial meetings of every group that looked remotely interesting (or had good food...), and then just stuck with those that seemed to fit my philosophies.

    Try to eat well. I developed a little too much of a relationship with the Dew during finals, but otherwise avoided caffeine (for the daily coffee drinkers out there- does it still work when you actually need to stay up for extended periods? There is definitely a tolerance factor involved). If there is a fridge in the student lounge, take advantage of it (not that I did, but, next semester I will!), and know where all the microwaves are- you want to avoid getting stuck in the lunch rush waiting for a microwave when you have lab in 5 minutes. Eat as well as you can; bringing good protein and produce snacks helped keep me from resorting to the quick fix sugary crap that inevitably leads to a crash.

    If you exercise now, figure out how to stick with it, although you might have to go from being a 4-hour/day gym rat to something a little more... normal.

    Try to stay in touch with friends. If they are in the same area, make plans to go out every so often. I went to dinner and the ballet several times with my area friends. We had to plan well in advance, but it was worth it.

    If you have a significant other, have them read "The Intern Blues". It's obviously not about medical school, but it is about something in your future. My s.o. saw a show about medical school on... I think it was the Discovery channel?... that really changed his perspective, and made him realize how much work was going to be involved. Keep your partner involved; let them know what kind of stress you're dealing with, but don't expect them to entirely understand. Do figure out how to spend time with them, because they will be missing you- set aside dinner every night, or go out once a week, or something. Ask for their input. If it's a long-term relationship, there will need to be a lot of involvement and input on their part throughout your medical education. While it can be a pain in many ways, it can also be a relief- having someone there to do the laundry when you can't, snuggle up with after a really stressful day, or make Dew runs when you're pressing into the wee hours of the morning before a final.

    When times get rough, and you just want to sleep more than anything else but can't, remind yourself of how hard you worked to be where you are. I did that many times this semester, and it always got me through.

    Above all, enjoy medical school! You will make life-long friends there, more likely than not. Be nice to people, and supportive, and you will receive the same in return. I dunno about elsewhere, but at my school, there are many truly wonderful, caring, hard-working people. You can learn something from each one of them, even if you can't see what at first.

    edit: Oops, sorry for the book!
    BeachBaby likes this.
  25. omarsaleh66

    omarsaleh66 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    temecula ca
    here are some tips for ur first semester:

    NBME exams:

    First Aid is a really good book to have. the anatomy and biochem shelf exams had so many questions that were on first aid. Dont underestimate the thinness of the first aid book, it just means that whatever is in it, u need to know cold. Very high yield stuff.

    Also, I think Lippincott review book was really good for Biochem. I think that it definetely should be used during biochem class to clarify a lot of things that the text book might not be that good at. Also, First Aid for the biochem NBME.

    Oh yeah for the anatomy NBME, I think that high yield anatomy was good to use w/ first aid.

    working out is definetly a good idea, If u learn alot about dieting and gaining weight than, u will ace all the insulin/glucagon questions on the bicohem nbme.

    Tips on Anatomy lab:

    1) Go to as many faculty reviews as possible, teachers can really show u some high yield things and relationships

    2) Learn stuff, and teach it to ur friends in the anatomy lab, then u will know it cold for the practical

    3) Dont waste anytime during lab, when u are not dissecting its very easy to just chill during lab, instead try using that time to memorize arteries, or nerve plexuses in the netters, that will save u alot of time cuz we were in lab for long preiods of time and it is a big waste if u dont use it efficiently.

    Oh yeah, one more thing, try to meet the academic doctors like chairs of departments or whatever, at ur school and get started on working with them if u wanna build ur resume, usually they can get u started on a paper that will likely get u published in a medical journal. Its very easy , the paper takes like 10 hours if u split it w/ another med student. then u can take turns getting published as first author with ur buddy. Usually medical journals encourage medical students and pay like 600 bucks per paper. Its not about the money but being published can help u for whatever residency u wanna pursue


    HappyLamb likes this.
  26. ::Seabass::

    ::Seabass:: bringing burkas back! 7+ Year Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    redneck heaven
    :laugh: I completely agree, remember this when selecting a med school. ;)

    for the biochem shelf, the BRS can be your bible. if you have a good anatomy class, your syllabus should be more than sufficient, I think there were maybe 3 questions on the anatomy shelf that had a word i had never seen before.
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  27. OneStrongBro

    OneStrongBro Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 13, 2002
  28. aphistis

    aphistis Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2003
    hSDN Member
    Right, but where's the actual research? All you've quoted is another anecdote from someone with an opinion. Hell, for that matter, cardiothoracic surgeons enjoy a prestigious reputation, but who enjoys needing a transplant?
  29. Habari

    Habari Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2003
    one of the most useful things i've seen posted on this board
    Revive likes this.
  30. fusionid

    fusionid Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    I wanted to add what really worked for me. If you are stuck trying to learn something for anatomy, just try to memorize the names. Next time you pick up your notes, things will stick easier. More than half of the work in anatomy was remembering the names!

    If you are lost and have no studying skills, repeat, repeat, repeat
    (flexor digitorium superficialis, flexor digitorium superficialis, flexor digitorium superficialis)
    APOPTOSIS2019 and Revive like this.
  31. Lonestar

    Lonestar Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2002
    If you can take it, its all good. :D

    First two years are about self discipline (And yes Step 1 is the most important score for competitive specialties). I had a good time my first two years in med school.

    Third year is a B*tch. You are everyone's wh#re. On top of this full time position, you have to find time to study for shelf exams at the end of each rotation (not to mention other departmental exams). And yes along with Step 1, the third year clinical grades are very important (get ready to pucker up those lips).

    Fourth year is good if you are applying to a non-competitive field. Nonetheless, it is still better than 3rd year. If you are like me and applying to radiology, you will not know whether you will match until march of 4th year.

    Moral of this story: If you plan on doing anything competitive (Dermatology, Opthamology, Radiology, Orthopedic Surgery, Neurosurgery), DON'T F#CK UP.
  32. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    May 30, 2001
    Gone Walkabout!
    Hi there,

    Advice for an incoming medical student:

    1. In the time before you start medical school, relax, read trashy novels and get watching the telly and movies out of your system. Go to the beach. Enjoy life and leisure!! Sell or burn all of your MCAT and pre-med books.

    2. Make your life as simple as possible, research into finding a good, cheap, convienent place to live. It does not have to be elaborate because you are going to be spending most of your time studying. Make sure the bed and shower are top notch.

    3. Start a good exercise program and stick with it. Folks who are in good physical condition will be in good mental condition. Exercise is the best stress reliever so make exercise a habit.

    4. Don't buy any text books at this point. You really don't know what you need and you make get a second-year peer advisor who will give you all of the texts that you need. This saved me lots of money when I started medical school.

    5. Everyone starts medical school dead even. Your classmates will be your future colleagues that you will want to send your patients to. Make sure to help your colleagues with everything. Resist the temptation to brag or gun even if you are doing well. Help everyone and try to be as professional as possible. Your MCAT score and undergraduate GPA are meaningless at this point and no one cares what you did before you started medical school.

    6. Join a specialty interest group if you have an idea of what you want to do. These groups can get you contact with attending physicans who will remember you when you hit third year. If you don't know what you want to do, join the interest group for both surgery and medicine. At some point, you can make a decision. You will also get valuable help from upperclassmen who have been through the grinder too.

    7. Treat everyone, even the housekeepers, with respect. You can never know when or where you might need some help and who might provide it. It was great coming in during exam week and hearing words of encouragement from the little ladies who cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors. It really helped to have some good will.

    8. Purchase First Aid for the Boards during Orientation but not before. This can be a great guide for what you need for USMLE Step I. It also helps you to hone in on the important concepts while listening to lectures.

    9. Find you what your learning style is and stick with it. If you are a visual learner, sit in the front of the class where you will have less distractions. If you are an aural learner (hearing), sit in the back where you can close your eyes and concentrate on what you are hearing.

    10. Don't try to re-copy your class notes. This is a total waste of time for medical school. If you school has a note service, subscribe and use the notes to fill in your class notes. Be very picky about which classes you attend. If you do not get anything out of the psychiatry lectures, then either sit in the back of the room and study something else or go to the library and study.

    11. Keep up. Don't fall behind in the first place but if you fall behind, catch up on the weekend but don't skip today's class to catch up on yesterday's lecture. Get the notes from a classmate and concentrate on the material at hand.

    12. Pre-view what will be discussed in lecture in the course syllabus. Read the bold headings in your text book. Listen to the lecture and take notes on the important stuff. Review your notes as soon as possible after class. Study hard on one of the weekend days. Use that day to review the entire week's material as if you were going to have the test that Monday. Take one of the weekend days or at least half a day to relax and be good to yourself.

    13. Study 50 minutes out of an hour and take a 10-minute break. If something is worrying you, write it on a piece of paper and promise to think about it on your 10-minute break. On your break, get up, get some water or fresh air. Let your mind relax a bit. Don't slog through hour after hour because your attention span starts to wane after 50 minutes and you become less effective at learning.

    14. Eat well. Stay away from the fatty foods in the evening. They will make you sleepy. (The parasympathetic system will be hard at work). Snack on veggies if you have to crunch during study time or chew gum. Drink plenty of water!

    15. The best resource for questions about a lecture is the professor that gave the lecture. Use the office hours and check your understanding even if you think you know everything. Sometimes professors give hints about the exam while answering questions during office hours. Attend all review sessions but be sure they they are reviews and not learning sessions.

    16. Use exam week to refine and sleep. Try to get a good night's sleep before every exam. If the tension is too high at your school, go to the library or better yet, grab a comfy chair at your local Starbucks and refine your study. If you have kept up with your classwork and study, you don't need to stress and cram during exam week.

    17. Medical school is great fun. While the study hours are long, the time goes by so quickly. Enjoy yourself and don't take yourself or others too seriously. Spend some time laughing at yourself and be a good colleague. No one in the class was born practicing medicine so you are all in the same boat together. Jell as a class and watch out for each other. You never know when one of your classmates will be the person to bail you out of a jam later on.

    18. If you are having any kind of trouble, get help early. Make an appointment with your Dean of Academic Affairs. Sometimes you can get one little thing that will get you onto the right track. If you have a major crisis, contact the Dean as soon as possible. Don't try to "gut it out" on things like major illness, abusive relationships or depression. Get some help and get it early.

    19. Don't waste valuable study time complaining. Complaining only makes you feel bad and does not remedy the situation. If you have a problem (heating, library space, study space), instead of complaining, offer a solution and move on. You don't have the luxury of taking your valuable study time to complain about trivial things that won't help you professionally. Help your class leaders by offering constructive solutions to what you need.

    20. Do some community service on the holidays. It will help to remind you why you came to medical school in the first place. Do health fairs and volunteer for short-term projects if your studies are going well.


  33. nuprin

    nuprin Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2003
    Before I entered my M1 year, my friends from college were fourth years and in the middle of trying to match, etc. Btw, much of the rest of the advice they give here is good too. Nonetheless, the one piece of advice I got from my was friends was this:

    You can't cram for boards. You can cram for exams and [he said] I'm really good at that, but in the end you can't cram for boards. You have to try, but there's too much information. Try and learn it right the first time.

    If you do well on boards, it relieves a lot of stress about worrying about which specialty you can match in, although it guarantees you nothing: still need to get good LOR, research, third year grades, etc.
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  34. cocoabutter

    cocoabutter Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    njbmd, that is great advice! i agree with everything that you said.
    i have done most of those things, and the things that i didn't do, i plan to do when school starts again. i definitely underestimated the importance of excercise, so it will become my habit for the remainder of my M1 year. i think the first half went well, but there are still things that i could do to make my life easier.
    HappyLamb likes this.
  35. timerick

    timerick T. D. Erickson, PA-C 7+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2003
    Albuquerque, NM

    Remember what the sympathetic response does to higher brain functioning.
  36. Lux Aeterna

    Lux Aeterna the eternal light 10+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2003
    Wow, what a great thread! Thanks for all the good advice, guys! :)
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  37. kaos

    kaos Web Crawler 10+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2002
    Why didn't people tell me this stuff before?
  38. Bevo

    Bevo Radiology, R1 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2002
    in hell
    remember to brush your teeth.

    and get plenty of sleep!

    sleep helps you remember stuff you learned.
  39. Doctortobee

    Doctortobee Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 24, 1999
    1. Don't let med school make you mean. It can and it will

    2. Make friends with the review books! Especially BRS Gross Anatomy.

    3. Relax a little and take everything in stride

    4. As a 1st year looking back to wasn't that bad. As a 2nd year you'll look back on your first year and say "it wasn't that bad"...things become easier.

    5. Don't forget to eat healthy foods and get that exercise!

    6. HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  40. Heal&Teach

    Heal&Teach cogito ergo sum 7+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2003
    Rose122: Thank you for asking this question.

    To all of the posters who contributed: Thank you for your thoughtful responses.


    Oh yeah, and this thread is soooo getting 5 stars...
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  41. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives 10+ Year Member

    Mar 26, 2001
    What I have learned so far and try to do, or what you will probably not heed until you have lived it:

    Take advantage of resources around you. People everywhere are ready to offer you help.

    If there is a study skills person, get to know him/her. Mine was invaluable in helping me figure out how to study.

    For anatomy practical, I found Rohen invaluable. I just quizzed myself til I was blue in the face. This is because the cadavers do not have blue veins and red arteries and yellow nerves like in Netter. Rohen's format also allows for easy quizzing.

    For anatomy, I also drew a lot. I drew out the triangles in the neck so even now I remember it better than if I hadn't. For biochem, I drew pathways up the wazoo (chalkboards are great for this). These are more chances to quiz yourself.

    Trust yourself. Always go with your gut response. Don't compare yourself with others. Decide in advance what your goal is: honors/pass/above the mean.

    Med school is about memorization most of the time. The more times you review the material, the better. Corollary: you will not master the material in one sitting.

    Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can't know everything you're supposed to, or come even close. In that case, triage. Learn the stuff you know least first.

    If you go to lecture, pre-read the lecture notes. You will absorb the lecture so much better it will be almost effortless.

    Build in rewards for studying, even if it's little things like a half-hour of Scrubs or dinner out with friends. Corollary: Do stuff besides studying. Life will otherwise become a bore, and you will be boring to your peers. And probably more important to you, your studying will be less motivated and effective.

    After an exam, don't take too much of a break. When you put things off it only gets harder to pick up again.

    Keep doing the things that are important to you. Make time for them. Corollary: don't neglect your family and friends.

    Try new things. It's so much fun! Since med school started I've gone on a hayride, carved a pumpkin, started salsa classes, ice skating, etc.

    Don't be afraid to get to know different people. It's easy to fall into the same circle of friends.

    Get to know your community. If you're just here to go to school, that's too bad.

    RELAX. Pass = MD!
    steeno and APOPTOSIS2019 like this.
  42. Heal&Teach

    Heal&Teach cogito ergo sum 7+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2003
    Bump, Bump, Bump!
  43. flsweetlady

    flsweetlady Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    1. Choose your study partners carefully
    2. Big study groups rarely work..try to keep them down to 2-4 people
    3. Dont alienate yourself from your classmates...they may have useful information that could make the difference between doing average and doing excellent
    4. Try to stay balanced..with school, family, extracurricular activities, etc. and you will do better than if you just focused on school
    5. CONSTANTLY Talk to your upperclassmen before every test or test block to get an idea of what to expect on the test and what to expect from a certain professor...they often have tips that are very helpful
    6. After each day of lecture, review the notes, then do questions and then do those questions again on the weekend to make sure you know the info., if you dont then read over the notes again until you know the info
    7. Dont beat yourself up if you did your best and only got a C in the class because what really matters is the board exams, just make sure you know the material
    8. Constantly remind yourself of why you want to become a helps keep you going when you want to give up
    9. Dont give can do it...
    APOPTOSIS2019 likes this.
  44. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    Some of us do/have. I'm still an undergrad, but I've had some pretty busy times. Last fall I took 21 credits, and one week in particular consisted of over 70 hours of either being in class/between classes/driving to class (to say nothing of the studying at home). Every Mon/Wed started at 8am with physics and ended at 10pm with my EMT course.
  45. greets fr. nyc

    greets fr. nyc Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    May 28, 2004
    great thread folks!

    other stuff...

    1) you'll see the most craziest things throughout you career, and med school is where lots of that begins (working intimately with hemi-sected pelvises is NOT a common experience for 99% of the people in this world).
    that being said, there is so much pain, death, suffering, or for that matter lots of random body parts disjointed from their original context that you have to find some way to stay whole and balanced and respectful.

    2) remember to listen to yourself and to others for your own sake (you don't want to become some emotionally bereft doc-bot), for your loved ones sake (actively make time for girlfriend, friends, parents, etc), and for your patients' sake (PLEASE!)... . REALLY TAKE THE TIME TO JUST LISTEN sometimes!

    3) an old-skool doctor once told me, the first day of school or so, write out on sheet of paper why you want to become a doctor in the first place.
    refer back to this document at various points in time whether you're elated from having experienced something amazing, or you're at your most cynical, angry, bitter low point (there'll be times for both extremes and everything in between). it's an interesting exercise to sometimes take stock and reflect upon why you're doing this thing called medicine.

    4) learn to take in NON-contructive criticism in stride. it's hard sometimes, but hopefully you'll remember these negative experiences and do your small part to change the system. make it a little more humane for those in years below you when you are that successful, high flying, bad-ass attending physician.

    5) quietly seek out a mentor(s) in the medical profession... and on the filip side try to talk to as many NON-MEDICAL people as you can throughout. both of these things will give you perspective as well as enrich your life enormously.

    good luck, and all the best.
  46. greets fr. nyc

    greets fr. nyc Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    May 28, 2004
    Originally Posted by Panda Bear

    No offense but I think a lot of people go straight form high school to college to medical school and get sort of used to having a lot of time off. Who really puts in anything close to a forty hour week as an undergrad?

    Originally Posted by TheProwler
    Some of us do/have. I'm still an undergrad, but I've had some pretty busy times. Last fall I took 21 credits, and one week in particular consisted of over 70 hours of either being in class/between classes/driving to class (to say nothing of the studying at home). Every Mon/Wed started at 8am with physics and ended at 10pm with my EMT course.


    Dear Prowler,
    I don't think esteemed Panda Bear meant to specifically belittle your experience.

    I'm sure lots of people appreciate you for your 21 credit, 70-hr-sometimes week of work, 8 am physics and 10pm EMT course .... ok?

  47. SaltySqueegee

    SaltySqueegee El Rey de Salsa 10+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    If there is one thing I want to maintain while I go through this hair-raising process, it is this.

    Good Point! :thumbup:
  48. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives 10+ Year Member

    Mar 26, 2001
    More advice: your classmates (and upperclassmen) are not means to an end. Keep from being a tool and socialize with others because you like them.

    peace :cool:
  49. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001

    I certainly did not and I apologize if Prowler thought I was busting on him. If he studies that much as an undergrad he will do fine in medical school. Heck, it will seem like a vacation. I was just interpolating from my own expereince.
  50. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    When you walk in the door for orientation (or maybe they will mail it) you will be handed a long list or required textbooks, equipment, and software. At this point you should stop, take a deep breath, and resist the urge to run to the bookstore and throw down a thousand-or-so dollars.

    First of all, you will not have time to read textbooks. Maybe some of you 44 MCAT, 257 Step One folks do have the time but for most of us, reading a 1280 page biochemistry textbook is an inefficient way to study. Instead, most people with sense eschew the expensive textbook and buy a cheaper review book (like Lippencott's or BRS) which presents the important information winnowed from the chaff of trivia. (Hell, most of biochem is trivia.) Ask your upperclassmen or people on this board what review books they use. In fact, many course directors bow to the inevitable and specify the review book or a paired down clinically oriented handbook as the required text.

    Second, if you absolutely need something, the bookstore is not going anywhere. On the other hand the library probably has a copy of the book you want on reference so if ll you need is to read a chapter this would be a good place to start.

    Third: Here is a list of what I actually used in first, second, and third year. Do not buy these books yet! This is just an example. See what you will need.

    First and Second Year

    1) BRS Pathology
    2) BRS Physiology
    3) BRS Histology
    4) Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology
    5) Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry
    6) Netter's Anatomy
    7) Rohen's Photographic Anatomy Atlas.
    8) Grant's Dissector
    9) First Aid for Step 1

    Third Year:

    1) "Blueprints" for every rotation.
    2) Medicine at a Glance
    3) OB-GYN at a Glance

    I have more books then this but these were all I really used. Most of my studying I did from lecture notes and lecture Powerpoints.

    Point is that come the end of freshman year when you are sucking fumes and cadging beer money from the winos you will regret the money you wasted.
    HappyLamb and Emeryx09 like this.
  51. greets fr. nyc

    greets fr. nyc Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    May 28, 2004
    whoa!! chalklette!

    oh my, you've rolled up 3.25 years of med school all in one gulp!
    first things first... step by step.
    here are a few fundamental and highly effective ways to get in tune with the whole med school thing and get your questions answered in terms of both breadth and depth:

    1) find a good medical bookstore and pick up and read (you can buy or not buy, but as long as you read it):
    a) "Iserson's Getting into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, Sixth Edition" - this will be of tremendous help to one wishing to understand the major parts of a successful medical school career - thus leading to a good residency - thus a satisfying career path. It wil clear up many many many many many many many many issues. it's really a great book.

    b) at that same bookstore: pick up and read the INTRO CHAPTERS to 'FIRST AID for the USMLE step 1" this is the BIG DADDY. this is what everyone is talking about. you will learn a lot from the intro chapters. this will hopefully clear up additional questions. there are others in the first aid series, but USMLE step 1 is indeed step 1

    2) make it a point talk to upperclassman at YOUR respective school- bit by bit as you go along. A quality interaction with your upper level colleagues IS TRULY INVALUABLE. they should be glad to help if you ask them nicely and in small chunks. it is an unwritten responsibility for them to do so, and most will be genuinely warm and forthright.
    every school is different, and although there are some common experiences to all med schools, YOU MUST KNOW THE BEAST first and foremost at home!

    good luck.

    oh yeah,
    ...something to keep in mind:
    don't worry about the step 1 of the USMLE national boards just yet! (students take this lovely 8 hr exam at the end of 2nd year generally, and study specifically for it 'round 4-8 weeks).
    of course, understand what it is.
    make a plan to organize the key material found in "first aid for the boards" (lots of good advice/posts on this in this and other threads).
    remember: it's just a friggin' multiple choice exam. yes, it's important and it's difficult, but also don't forget: 89-93% total USmed-student pass rate. hence PASS = MD. don't let a bubble exam dictate your well-being. no matter what it is used for in terms of selection process of ultra-competitive residencies, this exam bears LITTLE relationship to being a really clinically competent doctor.

    same goes for shelf exams: don't worry about them as a pre-1st year! you will have heaps upon heaps of exams before then.
    (shelf exams= nationally standardized exams after each rotation in 3rd year. some rotations at various medschools make their own exam and don't use the shelfs)
    (note: there are other shelf exams for basic sci courses as well. follow people's advice on this one. our school "taps" the shelfs for certain 3rd year rotations/clerkships)
    HappyLamb and APOPTOSIS2019 like this.

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