Preparing to start med school

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DCDocGal

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Hi there,

I just got accepted off the waitlist for a DO school, which I'm ecstatic about! However, I'm a nontrad student who finished up my courses about 2 years ago and took the MCAT last summer (2009). I haven't really been immersed in my old science books since then obviously.

Any advise on what I should refresh my memory on before I start? I realize that I'm going to be expected to hit the ground running on day one and I want to make sure I'm prepared. I've been reading up in my old anatomy and physiology book. Any other advise?

Thanks!

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1. Get a big study table and light
2. Get a comfy chair
3. Find out what books your upperclassmen reccommend to buy and see if you can get them on discount. Don't buy the books the school reccommends, only the books that the upperclassmen reccommend at least to start with.
4. Spend all the dough you just saved on a nice vacation.

Good luck!
 
Get a comfy chair

Getting a good chair is so unbelievably amazingly important. Even though OMT does seem to be able to work miracles at times, the last thing any med student needs is to be unable to sit for more than a few minutes because of a bad chair. Go all out and get that thousand-dollar chair if that's what it takes...
 
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Hi there,

I just got accepted off the waitlist for a DO school, which I'm ecstatic about! However, I'm a nontrad student who finished up my courses about 2 years ago and took the MCAT last summer (2009). I haven't really been immersed in my old science books since then obviously.

Any advise on what I should refresh my memory on before I start? I realize that I'm going to be expected to hit the ground running on day one and I want to make sure I'm prepared. I've been reading up in my old anatomy and physiology book. Any other advise?

Thanks!

Congrats on the acceptance! I wouldn't even bother studying anything now. Just relax and have some fun. Here's the best advice that I can give you that might actually have an impact: get in a regular sleep pattern starting now. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7am everyday. This will help you hit the ground running.
 
Congrats on the acceptance! I wouldn't even bother studying anything now. Just relax and have some fun. Here's the best advice that I can give you that might actually have an impact: get in a regular sleep pattern starting now. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7am everyday. This will help you hit the ground running.


I agree with Spooner13, start getting into a routine of waking up early and going to bed at a decent time. Sleep is very very important. I wouldn't worry about studying right now because you are gonna be doing plenty of that when school starts. And don't worry about falling behind because probably 99% of the other students in your class will be in the same boat once classes start. I would catch up with old friends, go see your family, take a vacation, or take up a new hobby because all of these things require free time and that is something that you will not have much of once school starts. One thing I've started to do was to map out my first two years and get on a plan (vacations, board studying, research, etc) so that I have things to look forward to and to shoot for. This might help keep you motivated while going through the first year and having something to look forward to. Congrats on the acceptance and good luck!
 
You don't really need to "refresh" on stuff... enjoy your time off. I would just get a good laptop and plenty of rest. Good luck :thumbup:
 
About getting into a regular sleep pattern, if you just can't after about a week or have a history of sleep problems, there might be an underlying medical cause.

About getting a laptop, consider getting a tablet pc with a stylus or a wacom graphics tablet. Taking handwritten notes on a computer has been more helpful for me than I ever guessed it could be before trying it.
 
Thanks for all the advice. I'm surprised (and a little relieved) that everyone didn't recommend doing some major crunch time studying. I just worry that many of my classmates will be only a few months out of undergrad and easily recall lots of extraneous information, making me feel I'm already behind.

Not much time to take all those vacations and visit family with only a few weeks notice, but I'll try to throw in a few fun things before it all starts!

Thanks again, and feel free to continue to comment if you have other ideas or suggestions.
 
It seems that the conventional wisdom among medical students is that people who are matriculating into medical school should spend their last summer loafing around and avoiding any sort of schoolwork altogether.

I think this is rubbish.

I wish I'd spent that summer at least casually going over some of the first-year material I was about to see. Looking back now, even a low-impact review of subjects like biochemistry and anatomy probably would have made those subjects much easier in the long run. Doing a basic review like this doesn't have to claim your entire summer, but it will make learning the material far less stressful during the school year.
 
It seems that the conventional wisdom among medical students is that people who are matriculating into medical school should spend their last summer loafing around and avoiding any sort of schoolwork altogether.

I think this is rubbish.

I wish I'd spent that summer at least casually going over some of the first-year material I was about to see. Looking back now, even a low-impact review of subjects like biochemistry and anatomy probably would have made those subjects much easier in the long run. Doing a basic review like this doesn't have to claim your entire summer, but it will make learning the material far less stressful during the school year.


I agree. The prevailing wisdom that you cannot prepare for medical school is more based on opinion than fact. If I could go back I'd focus on the first chapter of Moore's Clinical Anatomy as well as Medical Terminology. Medicine is like a foreign language and familiarizing yourself with this jargon sooner rather than later will pay big dividends.

I can't quite remember if it's KCOM or DMU (I think it's the latter) has a site dedicated to terminology....I would spend maybe 20 minutes a day on that.

Oh and if you're not already...try and get in as good of shape as possible. It helps with the stress and gives you the stamina for those 4 hour study sessions at the end of the day. And once you're in school don't fool yourself into thinking you don't have time to workout...because that's when you most need to make the time. Good Luck.
 
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Wow! Thanks to everyone with tips on here. I have exactly 18 days until classes begin & I'm starting to get nervous, but this info is exactly what I was looking for when I positioned myself in front of my laptop roughly an hour ago. Further tips are also very appreciated!

I'd love it if someone with experience could post a vocab list of medical terms that are important or used often in the first semester/ year of school. It may be a lot to ask, but it would be AWESOME to have.
 
As someone who just completed first year, my advice would be not to spend time studying, but rather making sure your daily habits and discipline are on par. That would include getting yourself into a healthy eating and exercise routine, so that you don't end up gaining 10-20 pounds like a number of us did within the first few months of starting school (since we became time crunched and started ordering out a lot and eating crap late at night to stay awake studying). It would also include making sure that you know how to be organized, since a lot of your first year success has to do with your ability to be organized and stay disciplined with studying. The material isn't all that hard. But it's a LOT, so you had better know how to manage your time. I say this as someone who was doing poorly my first 2 quarters (and was at VERY high risk of being dismissed) to someone who ended up excelling during my last quarter with high grades. That's the advice I wish I had understood fully beforehand. I also was a non-trad and had been out of science coursework for about 4 years (from undergrad). So it took me awhile to learn how to get disciplined and organized and stay on top of things in science-related coursework.
 
As someone who just completed first year, my advice would be not to spend time studying, but rather making sure your daily habits and discipline are on par. That would include getting yourself into a healthy eating and exercise routine, so that you don't end up gaining 10-20 pounds like a number of us did within the first few months of starting school (since we became time crunched and started ordering out a lot and eating crap late at night to stay awake studying). It would also include making sure that you know how to be organized, since a lot of your first year success has to do with your ability to be organized and stay disciplined with studying. The material isn't all that hard. But it's a LOT, so you had better know how to manage your time. I say this as someone who was doing poorly my first 2 quarters (and was at VERY high risk of being dismissed) to someone who ended up excelling during my last quarter with high grades. That's the advice I wish I had understood fully beforehand. I also was a non-trad and had been out of science coursework for about 4 years (from undergrad). So it took me awhile to learn how to get disciplined and organized and stay on top of things in science-related coursework.

Thanks for your advice! What are some tips you used for getting organized and being discipline, given the sheer amount of info to be learned?
 
Thanks for your advice! What are some tips you used for getting organized and being discipline, given the sheer amount of info to be learned?

Wake up at the same time every day. Eat well. Exercise. Treat school/studying like a demanding full-time job.

What's so draining is that while most people fart around at work all day, YOUR job requires not only physical stamina, but mental stamina. You need to have the ability to sit on your ass for very long periods of time and internalize some of the most mind-numbing bits of minutiae ever born from the mind of man. And not like in undergrad, where you do this when you get a hair up your ass. You need to do this basically every day. It gets crazily tedious and disturbing, but this is the gig you signed up for.

To successfully do this requires discipline. The number one thing for doing well in the first two years of medical school is self-discipline. Forcing discipline on yourself in all aspects of your life will be very helpful for making the transition into what is required of someone to succeed in med school.

As a side benefit, self-discipline really is the secret to happiness anyway, so you can delight in that as well.
 
When school starts, hit the ground running and make sure to overstudy the **** outta everything until you know where you are
 
Wake up at the same time every day. Eat well. Exercise. Treat school/studying like a demanding full-time job.

What's so draining is that while most people fart around at work all day, YOUR job requires not only physical stamina, but mental stamina. You need to have the ability to sit on your ass for very long periods of time and internalize some of the most mind-numbing bits of minutiae ever born from the mind of man. And not like in undergrad, where you do this when you get a hair up your ass. You need to do this basically every day. It gets crazily tedious and disturbing, but this is the gig you signed up for.

To successfully do this requires discipline. The number one thing for doing well in the first two years of medical school is self-discipline. Forcing discipline on yourself in all aspects of your life will be very helpful for making the transition into what is required of someone to succeed in med school.

As a side benefit, self-discipline really is the secret to happiness anyway, so you can delight in that as well.

Great advice.

OP, time management is so important, because you have so much material to learn in such a short time. If you aren't efficient you may only get through the material 1-2 times before an exam, which is not at all enough time to retain the material in your head. I was overly distracted with everything else going on (I also have ADD) and I couldn't focus. So I wouldn't get enough done during the week, and then I'd have an adrenaline spurt over the weekends staying up all night trying to cram furiously for Monday's exams. Of course, as you can imagine - my grades reflected this and my confidence took a hit. Once I finally figured out a plan for myself by planning out my week and following a studying routine (and not procrastinating... much), I was able to get through the material 4-5 times before a test (although some people may need even more than this).

I also found alternative sources of testing my knowledge of the material (and doing any optional questions our professors gave us to review). It also helped to review the material with other people and teach them, to make learning more active rather than passive. Also, if you ever struggle in a class, don't hesitate to contact your academic services department to request tutoring - as that can be a big help if you find the right person.

That's why I say don't bother studying now, as the little you go over now won't be retained once school starts. You won't need any sort of background in the material as they start you from the beginning - you simply have to study enough once classes start. The professors throw material at you furiously, so whatever you spend studying over the next month will be covered in about 2-3 days in school. That's why it's better just to enjoy your summer as fully as you can, and then be prepared to hit the ground running with an organized and ready-to-go once classes start. Good luck!
 
That's why I say don't bother studying now, as the little you go over now won't be retained once school starts. You won't need any sort of background in the material as they start you from the beginning - you simply have to study enough once classes start. The professors throw material at you furiously, so whatever you spend studying over the next month will be covered in about 2-3 days in school. That's why it's better just to enjoy your summer as fully as you can, and then be prepared to hit the ground running with an organized and ready-to-go once classes start. Good luck!

I don't agree with this.

Doing a casual, one-pass overview of subjects like biochemistry and physiology will pay big dividends - especially if you haven't touched these subjects in a long time. My school, for instance, had a summer "Prematric" program where incoming students could take compressed overview classes of 1st year subjects. Frankly, the people who took this program had a huge leg up on the rest of us. Because they'd seen much of the 1st year material already, they were often quite "fluent" right off the bat in topics that the rest of us were just reading and digesting for the first time. This gave these students a huge edge on most of the 1st semester exams.

As I've stated before, this is another situation in which the SDN conventional wisdom is poppycock.
 
I'm going to go against the grain and recommend studying a little bit.
Specifically, anatomy. You can just familiarize yourself with some basic ideas like that there are 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, etc, etc, and remember some important muscles, arteries, and veins.

Heck, you can remember the muscles that you are working out when you're at the gym. :) Exercise shouldn't take long, unless you are doing relatively inefficient sports like tennis or volleyball.

I agree with the cooking and eating healthy idea. However, you don't have to gain 20 pounds--why don't a lot of people in the third world not gain weight? Its because there is no food to eat! Just eat less or equate your input to your expenditures.

Also, you can move into your new home a week early to set up your bank account, see where the libraries and grocery stores are and in general acclimate yourself.


As someone who just completed first year, my advice would be not to spend time studying, but rather making sure your daily habits and discipline are on par. That would include getting yourself into a healthy eating and exercise routine, so that you don't end up gaining 10-20 pounds like a number of us did within the first few months of starting school (since we became time crunched and started ordering out a lot and eating crap late at night to stay awake studying). It would also include making sure that you know how to be organized, since a lot of your first year success has to do with your ability to be organized and stay disciplined with studying. The material isn't all that hard. But it's a LOT, so you had better know how to manage your time. I say this as someone who was doing poorly my first 2 quarters (and was at VERY high risk of being dismissed) to someone who ended up excelling during my last quarter with high grades. That's the advice I wish I had understood fully beforehand. I also was a non-trad and had been out of science coursework for about 4 years (from undergrad). So it took me awhile to learn how to get disciplined and organized and stay on top of things in science-related coursework.
 
As I've stated before, this is another situation in which the SDN conventional wisdom is poppycock.

I disagree. If you are the kind of person who buckles down and studies before your first year, odds are you have the kind of motivation it takes to do well. I doubt that the pre-studying itself helps you much. If you are the kind of person who doesn't see the point of studying before classes start, but you take it seriously (as everyone should) once you begin, you'll still do well. Don't come away from this thread with the idea that pre-studying is required to do your best.

It's the motivation to just keep working/studying during the term that really determines your grades, far more than your preparation before school starts.

I'm not saying that pre-studying is a complete waste of time, just that it's rarely the best use of one of the last breaks you'll have. You don't pick up a whole lot for the amount of time and effort you put into it.

That said, if you still want to do something academic before you start school, the suggestions people have given (med term and anatomy familiarization) strike me as good options.
 
I don't agree with this.

Doing a casual, one-pass overview of subjects like biochemistry and physiology will pay big dividends - especially if you haven't touched these subjects in a long time. My school, for instance, had a summer "Prematric" program where incoming students could take compressed overview classes of 1st year subjects. Frankly, the people who took this program had a huge leg up on the rest of us. Because they'd seen much of the 1st year material already, they were often quite "fluent" right off the bat in topics that the rest of us were just reading and digesting for the first time. This gave these students a huge edge on most of the 1st semester exams.

As I've stated before, this is another situation in which the SDN conventional wisdom is poppycock.

well the prematric(ulation?) program had a focus, whereas people studying on their own won't really be able to know what's important. another thing i've heard people say is that what someone would study for like a week or so on their own will be covered the first 2 days of class. so the pacing is different. so maybe that's why studying on your own is going to get different results from a pre-study school program?
 
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