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MD & DO What do you wish you knew before starting med school?

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--Gem

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Can post in pre-med if more appropriate.

Title says it all. If you could start med school over, what would you do differently? What do you wish you knew? Resources you wish you had earlier? Anything.
 

ooh a bean

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I wish I hadn't wasted time on lightyear and started immediately with zanki instead
 
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stickgirl390

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I wish I hadn't wasted time on lightyear and started immediately with zanki instead
Some people might think this is a troll response, but it’s 100% accurate.

I wish I had started Zanki year 1, and didn’t listen to anyone that said to wait to study for boards until year 2.
 
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Ho0v-man

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probably not the best time of year to ask this question. its Just gonna be a lot of people venting boards frustrations.

I wish I had picked a cheaper school. I have no clue what my tuition goes toward. You ignore your preclinical curriculum as much as possible, and the vast majority of your attendings/residents don’t get any real compensation for working with you.
 
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Chelsea FC

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How much it would break me down and make me feel unhappy with life and myself for weeks on end. hoorah for medschool
 
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deleted998607

I wish I had picked a cheaper school. I have no clue what my tuition goes toward.

I feel this...

I ended up going to the school that 'aligned best with my goals/aspirations'. But my school's goal is to acquire currency. Not saying that's not the goal at every med school, but the tuition where I go is outrageous. During preclinical, I didn't use the library, notes, or 'resources'...I just used outside materials. So I'm just paying for a piece of paper.

For residency rankings in the future, I am not going to make the same mistake(s). Cost of living will play a huge part in my decision. In this game, given the cost, feelings are for fools. Make decisions based on money/cost....because if your money isn't right, few things are right.
 
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Ho0v-man

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I feel this...

I ended up going to the school that 'aligned best with my goals/aspirations'. But my school's goal is to acquire currency. Not saying that's not the goal at every med school, but the tuition where I go is outrageous. During preclinical, I didn't use the library, notes, or 'resources'...I just used outside materials. So I'm just paying for a piece fo paper.

For residency rankings in the future, I am not going to make the same mistake(s). Cost of living will play a huge part in my decision. In this game, given the cost, feelings are for fools. Make decisions based on money/cost....because if your money isn't right, few things are right.
For real tho. That “top” program in a high COL area is going way farther down on the list than that solid community program with ample moonlighting in a small town.
 
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efle

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I wish I made more of an effort to do research in my field or related field and get published. I applied with 3 projects, one poster, and one publication. The pub was not in my field or related. I definitely would have had time to do something during MS1 or 2.

Things I DO NOT regret:
Waiting to study for Step 1. I focused on class material until after our comp exams end of second year. Dedicated study for about 7ish weeks. Scored 263 and was a lot less miserable and burnt than classmates who started earlier and forgot everything by dedicated. Although, my school is VERY GOOD at prepping us for boards through the class material.
Taking Step 2 EARLY!!!! Having my scores back summer before I applied was so clutch.
Gotta reiterate for emphasis, if your school teaches well to the boards (e.g. uses NBME unit finals) then studying your curriculum is studying for Step. The people you see lamenting late board studying are usually coming from schools that don't align well with USMLE content.

For OP's question: Should've shadowed more during preclinical. My first half of MS3 was almost exclusively inpatient work so I had no idea how I felt about the daily grind of outpatient clinic until now, and I will have gotten very little exposure to some of the niche specialties I didn't have elective space for. It's a pain in the ass to give up free time to shadow someone as a med student, but your future self will thank you if it lets you discover what you want to do with your life (or discover it sooner for the hypercompetitive fields)
 
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slowthai

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I wish I made more of an effort to do research in my field or related field and get published. I applied with 3 projects, one poster, and one publication. The pub was not in my field or related. I definitely would have had time to do something during MS1 or 2.

Things I DO NOT regret:
Waiting to study for Step 1. I focused on class material until after our comp exams end of second year. Dedicated study for about 7ish weeks. Scored 263 and was a lot less miserable and burnt than classmates who started earlier and forgot everything by dedicated. Although, my school is VERY GOOD at prepping us for boards through the class material.
Taking Step 2 EARLY!!!! Having my scores back summer before I applied was so clutch.

Just have to point out that this phenomenon is non-existent for people that consistently utilize a form of spaced repetition. *cough* Zanki users
 
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takeurmeds02

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1. Play nice with your classmates but absolutely do not feel compelled to be bestfriends with all of them. It's common sense but medstudents start to get into this echo chamber where everyone is supposed to hang out all of the time even they don't particularly have too much in common.

2. Start board studying (Zanki/other Qbanks) the beginning of second year or at least halfway through first semester. I kinda waited until dedicated. I did fine and am proud of my score but I could have crushed if I need the simple stuff like bugs and drugs.

3. First couple weeks/months, start identifying research opportunities or other heavily involved extracurriculars so that you have something to show for your time in medschool other than grades. Kinda looks weird when you picked something up the spring/summer before residency apps are due plus you just don't have time for anything substantial.
 
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sharkbyte

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-Shadow more during preclinical years
-Be more aggressive about boards studying given how important Step 1 is
-Keep up a consistent workout regimen and not let it completely disappear just because of being tired or lazy
-Cook more, eat out less
 
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--Gem

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Thank you all for the feedback!

I wish I had started Zanki year 1, and didn’t listen to anyone that said to wait to study for boards until year 2.
Things I DO NOT regret:
Waiting to study for Step 1.
Gotta reiterate for emphasis, if your school teaches well to the boards (e.g. uses NBME unit finals) then studying your curriculum is studying for Step. The people you see lamenting late board studying are usually coming from schools that don't align well with USMLE content.
2. Start board studying (Zanki/other Qbanks) the beginning of second year or at least halfway through first semester. I kinda waited until dedicated. I did fine and am proud of my score but I could have crushed if I need the simple stuff like bugs and drugs.

For the STEP 1 prep, I keep finding a lot of conflicting answers on when to prep, even outside of this thread. Start of M1? Start of M2? Middle of M2?
Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what's best.

As for research, how necessary is it for non-competitive fields? I'm going into med school with an open mind and not gunning for any specific specialty, but generally have been attracted to less competitive stuff like path, many types of IM, FM, neurology, psych, clinical genetics, etc...

How much time should an M1 or M2 dedicate to shadowing, roughly speaking? Just as much as you feel is needed?
 
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Styrene

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Wish I had known that there was a Whole Foods 15 minutes down the road because they have my favorite soft-ripened cheeses and prosciutto.

And also wish I had known about the dry cleaners I go to now, which I only found at the end of my third year. Awesome people. Always chat for 30-60 minutes on Saturdays when I pick up my clothes.
 
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slowthai

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For the STEP 1 prep, I keep finding a lot of conflicting answers on when to prep, even outside of this thread. Start of M1? Start of M2? Middle of M2?
Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what's best.

Utilizing some form of spaced repetition means that you retain 90+% of what you learned the first time. This means that while everyone else is killing themselves to review everything they've learned starting from the second half of M2, you're putting that same effort into eradicating your weaknesses and honing your test taking skills.

If you're using Anki for spaced repetition, using it as early as possible just means you won't have to do as many cards everyday to finish the deck before dedicated. Trust me, 50 new cards a day vs 100 new cards a day is a significant difference in workload.

That's why you always hear people saying "I wish I had started Zanki earlier", for example.

Doing it this way is the safe way of preparing for step if you want to maximize your score. As long as you make sure you're actually understanding the content and avoiding just memorizing cards, I don't see how you can lose. The downside of this method is that it requires serious discipline and dedication.

If you're a master test taker and/or crammer, you can take the relative "risk" of waiting to study for step. I'm neither of those, so you can find me smashing the spacebar on any given occasion, lol.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Utilizing some form of spaced repetition means that you retain 90+% of what you learned the first time. This means that while everyone else is killing themselves to review everything they've learned starting from the second half of M2, you're putting that same effort into eradicating your weaknesses and honing your test taking skills.

If you're using Anki for spaced repetition, using it as early as possible just means you won't have to do as many cards everyday to finish the deck before dedicated. Trust me, 50 new cards a day vs 100 new cards a day is a significant difference in workload.

That's why you always hear people saying "I wish I had started Zanki earlier", for example.

Doing it this way is the safe way of preparing for step if you want to maximize your score. As long as you make sure you're actually understanding the content and avoiding just memorizing cards, I don't see how you can lose. The downside of this method is that it requires serious discipline and dedication.

If you're a master test taker and/or crammer, you can take the relative "risk" of waiting to study for step. I'm neither of those, so you can find me smashing the spacebar on any given occasion, lol.

Also if your school uses nbme, then studying for step is studying for your exams. That means you can start zanki from the beginning, not have to do a billion cards a day, and be studying for your exams at the same time.
 
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iforget2

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Utilizing some form of spaced repetition means that you retain 90+% of what you learned the first time. This means that while everyone else is killing themselves to review everything they've learned starting from the second half of M2, you're putting that same effort into eradicating your weaknesses and honing your test taking skills.

If you're using Anki for spaced repetition, using it as early as possible just means you won't have to do as many cards everyday to finish the deck before dedicated. Trust me, 50 new cards a day vs 100 new cards a day is a significant difference in workload.

That's why you always hear people saying "I wish I had started Zanki earlier", for example.

Doing it this way is the safe way of preparing for step if you want to maximize your score. As long as you make sure you're actually understanding the content and avoiding just memorizing cards, I don't see how you can lose. The downside of this method is that it requires serious discipline and dedication.

If you're a master test taker and/or crammer, you can take the relative "risk" of waiting to study for step. I'm neither of those, so you can find me smashing the spacebar on any given occasion, lol.

Start zanki day 1! When you're an M2 you will thank yourself so much for doing so. I started it day 1, and although it's been challenging at times to fit in ~2.5 hours/day for zanki, it's been paying off so much on my Q banks. It takes a ton of discipline (know when to block youtube, reddit, sdn) and you have to space it out throughout the day to not get overwhelmed.
 
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~Soñadora~

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How having a social support system was going to be more important than literally any other factor in medical school. I might had picked a different school closer to my support system. But other than that, I don't think knowing anything would've made me change anything, not because there isn't anything I wish I could change (basically I think if given the choice now I wouldn't have gone to medical school at all) but because you can't learn through other people's mistakes, you have to make them yourself before it feels real.
 
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Doctor_ruski

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Every other person you talk to will have a different opinion on what is the “best way to study”. Many of those same people will tell you that certain types of studying are the “worst way to study”. My advice is to ignore all of them. Sure, try something new and be realistic about the fact that you’re going to have to change up your study regime many times throughout your first year until you figure out what clicks. But, don’t think that all of these people have some magic secret on how to study. Do take advice on what extra resources to use etc from your classmates because they know where your curriculum is lacking, but realize that Med school is hard, there’s an ungodly amount of info to absorb, and everyone learns differently.

Stick with what worked for you in undergrad, and adjust accordingly. I spent the first half of M1 listening to other people and NOT writing out my notes, even tho that’s what worked best for me in undergrad. The result? I struggled. As soon as I swapped back to what was comfortable for me, my comprehension and retention significantly improved. For me, writing out my notes, making charts for all the diseases/drugs/bugs etc, and using Zanki was the perfect combination. That doesn’t mean it’ll work the same way for someone else! So, don’t compare yourself to other people and instead just do what works best for you!!
 
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--Gem

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Every other person you talk to will have a different opinion on what is the “best way to study”. Many of those same people will tell you that certain types of studying are the “worst way to study”. My advice is to ignore all of them. Sure, try something new and be realistic about the fact that you’re going to have to change up your study regime many times throughout your first year until you figure out what clicks. But, don’t think that all of these people have some magic secret on how to study. Do take advice on what extra resources to use etc from your classmates because they know where your curriculum is lacking, but realize that Med school is hard, there’s an ungodly amount of info to absorb, and everyone learns differently.

Stick with what worked for you in undergrad, and adjust accordingly. I spent the first half of M1 listening to other people and NOT writing out my notes, even tho that’s what worked best for me in undergrad. The result? I struggled. As soon as I swapped back to what was comfortable for me, my comprehension and retention significantly improved. For me, writing out my notes, making charts for all the diseases/drugs/bugs etc, and using Zanki was the perfect combination. That doesn’t mean it’ll work the same way for someone else! So, don’t compare yourself to other people and instead just do what works best for you!!

People seem to really like their Anki and I've never made really vast quantities of flashcards, so here's hoping I'll do well there! I really like understanding stuff and then teaching it to other people to cement the concepts (Some people call it the Feyman technique). Not sure how well that will work out in med school.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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People seem to really like their Anki and I've never made really vast quantities of flashcards, so here's hoping I'll do well there! I really like understanding stuff and then teaching it to other people to cement the concepts (Some people call it the Feyman technique). Not sure how well that will work out in med school.

You don't have to make vast quantities of flashcards. That's what zanki is for.
 
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deleted915325

People seem to really like their Anki and I've never made really vast quantities of flashcards, so here's hoping I'll do well there! I really like understanding stuff and then teaching it to other people to cement the concepts (Some people call it the Feyman technique). Not sure how well that will work out in med school.

Haven’t touched Anki or made a single flash card throughout any of M1 or M2. While I haven’t taken step yet, I’m already killing Qbanks and scoring fairly high on practice NBMEs given I’m still around 6 months from the test.

Moral of the story: everyone is going to shove Anki down your throat but if you don’t learn like that, it’s perfectly okay as long as what you’re doing is working for you. I’d rather do 25 NBME style practice questions a day than 100 cards
 
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kb1900

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Everything you learn is important. Do not dump information. It’s inevitable that knowledge will atrophy but questions and spaced repetition can keep things fresh.
 
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CyrusHabs7695

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Haven’t touched Anki or made a single flash card throughout any of M1 or M2. While I haven’t taken step yet, I’m already killing Qbanks and scoring fairly high on practice NBMEs given I’m still around 6 months from the test.

Moral of the story: everyone is going to shove Anki down your throat but if you don’t learn like that, it’s perfectly okay as long as what you’re doing is working for you. I’d rather do 25 NBME style practice questions a day than 100 cards

Just curious, how do remember the small detailed stuff from past blocks?
 
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Roxas

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Don't worry bro, I got you:


That thread really takes me back
 
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deleted915325

Just curious, how do remember the small detailed stuff from past blocks?

I nailed a lot of them down so hard during the blocks that they’re really tough to forget. I also come across them pretty frequently in the questions since I do Qs like most people do Anki. I have had trouble with remembering some more nuanced micro stuff from this method though but I’m on my third pass of sketchymicro and I feel this has really solidified it.

So in summary, I work really hard during the block, doing 7-8 passes of all the lecture material and corresponding questions form a Qbank. Then shelf that organ system for a while before adding the material back into my question rotation after a couple months. I’m also a lot stronger critical thinker than straight memorizer so I believe this method plays to my innate abilities. In other words, learning facts in isolation without context is a struggle for me while learning thought patterns comes much easier and makes things stick much longer

Note: I have all the big name qbanks (Uworld, Kaplan, Rx) and some lesser known ones like lecturio, UsmleEasy, and medbullets. I use mostly Rx and Kaplan during the block and move to the “lesser” banks once I exhaust an organ system in those. I’m trying to save most of Uworld for dedicated but do a randomized block of it every now and then to make sure I’m progressing in “the gold standard” bank
 
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slowthai

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I nailed a lot of them down so hard during the blocks that they’re really tough to forget. I also come across them pretty frequently in the questions since I do Qs like most people do Anki. I have had trouble with remembering some more nuanced micro stuff from this method though but I’m on my third pass of sketchymicro and I feel this has really solidified it.

So in summary, I work really hard during the block, doing 7-8 passes of all the lecture material and corresponding questions form a Qbank. Then shelf that organ system for a while before adding the material back into my question rotation after a couple months. I’m also a lot stronger critical thinker than straight memorizer so I believe this method plays to my innate abilities. In other words, learning facts in isolation without context is a struggle for me while learning thought patterns comes much easier and makes things stick much longer

Note: I have all the big name qbanks (Uworld, Kaplan, Rx) and some lesser known ones like lecturio, UsmleEasy, and medbullets. I use mostly Rx and Kaplan during the block and move to the “lesser” banks once I exhaust an organ system in those. I’m trying to save most of Uworld for dedicated but do a randomized block of it every now and then to make sure I’m progressing in “the gold standard” bank

Sounds really good. How many hours were you putting in a day with this method as an M1 and how many are you putting in now?
 

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The usual first year classes (Anatomy, BioChem, Histology, Neuro) tend to be lower yield on Boards than the 2nd year subjects so learning how to learn for me was more high yield so I could start 2nd year off on the right foot.

Ask upper levels which classes are skippable and then study same lecture by yourself in that time slot.

Never be room-mates with friends or study mates.. too much of a good thing
can be bad.

If in a study group, assign a lecture to each person to “teach” to the rest of the group.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Find something non-medical that you can do without putting a lot of time into and that you can put aside during the times when school gets nuts. Having a hobby or something is really nice when you need to take even just 15-20 mins to do something completely unrelated to medicine.

Also get in shape and stay in shape during preclerkship. It’s a lot harder to get into shape when you’re working 6 days a week and studying on top of that.
 
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deleted915325

Sounds really good. How many hours were you putting in a day with this method as an M1 and how many are you putting in now?

It’ll vary by day and by week but I’d say I probably spend an average of 50-55 hours a week on school stuff. That includes all the mandatory PBL type stuff too that is pretty heavy at my school. That time investment has been fairly consistent throughout both years. I did next to something the summer between M1 and M2 though. Just some research at a laid back gig
 
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HowAreYaNow

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I wish I had put myself out there more in the preclinical years and made friends with my classmates. Because soon you're in dedicated and then the clinical years and then interview season and you're spending a lot of time alone.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 
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Chlorophyll Oracle

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So i'm an M1 so I can't give you that long term advice. But I can give you some decent advice about what you should do to get ready for class since I was in your shoes a year back. The best thing I could say is get yourself on a good schedule. I'm not saying start studying, seriously it wont help you at all. I'm just saying try to get up around the same time each day, get a morning rhythm down. It will help you save time in the long run you can spend studying.

One thing I do not regret is choosing a cheap, in state school that's very relaxed. My school is not as prestigious as some other ones but by god is it laid back. I study mainly outside sources so it doesn't matter and the school does a good job in filling in the cracks. If you have the option pick the cheapest school with a chill vibe!

Try to get a nest egg of money saved up. I worked like 80 hours a week during my year off to get some money saved up. Through moving, car repairs and wedding planning that emergency fund has dried up. However, i was very thankful to have it!
 
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kraskadva

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How much it would break me down and make me feel unhappy with life and myself for weeks on end. hoorah for medschool
Years** Sad state of living.
Legit this.
I have been busier before and had worse people in my life, but I have never been so emotionally and physically drained as during med school.
I also wish I had known earlier that my body is not good at storing vitamins and that I need massive supplementation to feel like a normal human. Definitely would have helped to start that earlier - so get your VitD and B12 levels checked y'all.
 
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--Gem

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So i'm an M1 so I can't give you that long term advice. But I can give you some decent advice about what you should do to get ready for class since I was in your shoes a year back. The best thing I could say is get yourself on a good schedule. I'm not saying start studying, seriously it wont help you at all. I'm just saying try to get up around the same time each day, get a morning rhythm down. It will help you save time in the long run you can spend studying.

One thing I do not regret is choosing a cheap, in state school that's very relaxed. My school is not as prestigious as some other ones but by god is it laid back. I study mainly outside sources so it doesn't matter and the school does a good job in filling in the cracks. If you have the option pick the cheapest school with a chill vibe!

Try to get a nest egg of money saved up. I worked like 80 hours a week during my year off to get some money saved up. Through moving, car repairs and wedding planning that emergency fund has dried up. However, i was very thankful to have it!

Definitely trying my best here. Saving up a ton during my gap year job, but that job does NOT give me a consistent sleep schedule (rotating 12 hour shifts. Can be day shift followed immediately by a night one followed by a day one. Fun!)

This gap year has me a bit worried I'll have a hard time readjusting to school, but I guess we'll see how that turns out.

I'm likely not picking my cheapest school, but going to one where the students are known for being very happy.

I know this isn't the most popular opinion, but I have my (many, very personal) reasons.
 

Chlorophyll Oracle

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Definitely trying my best here. Saving up a ton during my gap year job, but that job does NOT give me a consistent sleep schedule (rotating 12 hour shifts. Can be day shift followed immediately by a night one followed by a day one. Fun!)

This gap year has me a bit worried I'll have a hard time readjusting to school, but I guess we'll see how that turns out.

I'm likely not picking my cheapest school, but going to one where the students are known for being very happy.

I know this isn't the most popular opinion, but I have my (many, very personal) reasons.
You can pick whichever school you'd like, I understand you may have personal reasons to chose one over the other. The "feel" you get from the school is very important because if you don't feel like you'll fit, it can make a difficult 4 years even worse. I was fortunate enough to find that my cheap state school seemed to jive well with my personality.

In regards to adjusting, I'm sure you will do just fine. I think you'll be amazed how fast you will jump into the new lifestyle and get a good rhythm. It took me through orientation to get used to the sleep schedule and about a week to figure out a system that worked for me with studying (that system has been tweaked over time of course).

I remember worrying that my year off would put my intelectually behind my peers. I could feel myself getting dumber while working 2 dead end jobs. However, I haven't felt behind my peers at all. I was able to jump straight in and pick up where my education left off.
 
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--Gem

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Don't sleep with your classmates unless you're willing to risk an awkward rest of med school if things don't work out too well.

And I'd earn a shiny new divorce.
 
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Premed2295

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My Step 1 Score wont matter.
 
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HowAreYaNow

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Prophylactic SSRIs or bupropion or buspirone should be recommended/required. Only half joking.
Definitely Wellbutrin. Can't gain any more weight.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

Giovanotto

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Wish I had known that there was a Whole Foods 15 minutes down the road because they have my favorite soft-ripened cheeses and prosciutto.

And also wish I had known about the dry cleaners I go to now, which I only found at the end of my third year. Awesome people. Always chat for 30-60 minutes on Saturdays when I pick up my clothes.
That's my biggest nightmare.
 
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TwoHighways

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Great thread! Will be coming back often. Thank you to everyone that has contributed.
 

Kumorebi

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Any comments on the anking deck vs the zanki deck? I’ve heard that anking the ultimate deck with really good tags and organization.
 

slowthai

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Any comments on the anking deck vs the zanki deck? I’ve heard that anking the ultimate deck with really good tags and organization.

AnKing is the same thing as Zanki. It's just the latest version of the deck. Zanki is the base content. AnKing basically organized everything by tags and incorporated add ons like the screenshots of FA found in Ultra Zanki.
But I will always call it by its name, Zanki, because he's the one that created the deck. He deserves all the credit. AnKing obviously deserves all the credit for what he's done as well.
 
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