Medical School Skills for Success



Medical School Skills Development

It is no secret that medical school is difficult. The coursework is dense. The learning curve is steep. Often, there is little time for normal life activities. Students who succeed in this environment have certain medical school skills. If you work to hone these skills, you will find that your medical school experience is much better. Ideally, you should begin working on these skills prior to applying to medical school. However, it is never too late to begin.



One of the most important medical school skills to develop is an effective use of time. The amount of work in medical school is voluminous. Therefore, it is important to make a plan to efficiently get your work done. You can teach yourself time-management. It is often helpful to make a checklist of everything that needs to get done. Next, prioritize the tasks on your check list. Once that is done, you should begin working to complete all the items on the list. In this way, you will find that it is easier and more efficient to get all the tasks completed.




Medical professionals have a dangerous job. If a doctor is careless, patients suffer. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for medical students to be responsible people. Responsible students do their job correctly because they know it is the correct thing to do. Medical students with a good sense of responsibility make sure that all their tasks have been completed correctly before leaving a clinical rotation for the day.  Although acting responsibly can sometimes mean that you will do more work, you will grow to be a better physician because of it. Furthermore, your patients will receive better care.

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Possibly one of the most useful medical school skills to develop is cooperation. A common occurrence is for medical students to become hyper-competitive.  Many stories circulate about so-called “gunners” who attempt to sabotage other students in an attempt to make themselves look better. This behavior is not useful to anybody.


Instead of alienating their classmates, medical students should strive to work together. Cooperation improves learning. In addition, your peers are an ideal support system. Medical training can be emotionally difficult. Developing a good relationship with your classmates can be beneficial. Many medical schools have clubs and other extra-curricular activities for their students. Consider becoming involved in order to develop friendships with your classmates.

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Assertiveness is a skill that will serve you well as a medical student. This is a person’s ability to state their opinion with confidence. Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. A skillfully assertive person is able to state their opinion without resorting to bullying or intimidation. Medical professionals must be assertive in discussing the treatment plan with their patients.  In addition, physicians work as a team with other healthcare professionals. Doctors need to be assertive to work effectively in a healthcare team environment.

Medical students should also develop assertiveness to prevent unnecessary hardships in their training. Unfortunately, you will likely encounter people during your time as a medical student who will attempt to take advantage of you, or treat you badly. Senior medical students, residents, and attending physicians are notorious for being unkind to those below them in training. Medical education often requires students to perform unpleasant tasks, however, hazing and verbal abuse is unnecessary. Although there is unfortunately a culture of abuse within medical education, you need not tolerate mistreatment. By becoming comfortable with being assertive, you will be able calmly redirect anybody who attempts to treat you badly.



It is often difficult to be a doctor. A physician often works long hours, deals with stressful situations, sees people at the lowest points in their lives, and deals with tragedy more frequently than most other people. As a result, physicians are especially susceptible to burnout, depression and suicide. Approximately 350 physicians in the United States die by suicide each year. Physicians are 1.5 times more likely to die as a result of suicide than the general population. Given these statistics, it is imperative for aspiring physicians to develop a healthy self-care regimen.

medical school skills- self care


Self care for medical students is often as simple as designating time to do an enjoyable activity that is not related to medical school. Having interests outside of medicine is a great protector against burnout. Medical students and doctors who engage in hobbies outside of work report less burnout and are less likely to become depressed. Consider reading a pleasure book, joining a gym, or spending time with friends. If you find that medical training is adversely affecting your mental health, seek help. Many schools provide easy access to free and confidential mental health services to their students.

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