Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #1: Be Humble
Getting accepted to medical school is difficult. If you are a medical student, it means you have beaten out thousands of people for your seat at your school. Obviously, you are a smart and talented individual. However, you are not entitled to special treatment. Your current classmates are also intelligent and highly-qualified people. In addition, there have been generations of medical students before you; and many people will attend medical school in the future. Although you should certainly be proud of you accomplishments, you should not allow your success to over-inflate your ego.
You should expect to work hard. Sometimes the hard work will be in the form of menial tasks. Do not take offense to this. Carrying specimens to the lab, looking up test results, or updating patient lists are all important tasks that are necessary for the smooth delivery of health care. Somebody has to do it. Why should you be exempt? You are helping your patients and the medical team when you perform so-called ‘scut work’. Furthermore, these activities have intrinsic educational value if you pay attention. In time, you will gain the skills and experience to perform other roles within the healthcare team. Even then, you will still have to do many administrative tasks. Therefore, do not complain, keep an open mind, and maintain a pleasant attitude.
Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #2: Learn When to Go Home
A medical student’s usefulness is limited in the clinical setting. You will find that much of your clinical time is spent in a work-room waiting for something to happen. Although you should always be readily available to help your team during your assigned work period, do not think that you will curry favor for lingering after your shift.
If your resident does not dismiss you at the end of the day, it is likely because he or she has forgotten about you. This is not to say that you are not valued or liked by your team. However, the harsh reality is that monitoring the whereabouts of medical students is low on a resident’s priority list. Instead of waiting for the resident to find you, periodically check in with your resident during the day and offer to help in any way you can. At the end of the day, check in with your resident and ask if there is anything else he or she would like you to do before you leave for the day.
Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #3: Critically Evaluate Criticism
Medical students receive an abundance of criticism. It comes in the form of grades and evaluations. In addition, attending physicians, residents, and other medical students will be quick to point out any perceived flaws. As a medical student, it is easy to become discouraged. However, it is essential to evaluate each piece of criticism. Criticism that can be used to improve yourself should be accepted. You should ignore criticism that is not helpful . In order to differentiate the types of criticism, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the issue true?
- Is the issue a problem?
- Am I able to change the issue?
If you are able to answer ‘yes’ to all three of the above questions, it is likely that the criticism is valid. In this instance, you should take note of it, and make plans not to repeat that mistake in the future. If however, you answer ‘no’ to at least one question, do not give the criticism any further thought.
Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #4: Get a Good Review Book
Your school will likely give you a list of textbooks to purchase for your classes. However, you will quickly learn that most of the school endorsed books are expensive, dense, and boring. Your time and money are precious. There is no reason to spend several hundred dollars on a book that will only clutter your shelves. Instead of purchasing a large textbook for each course, opt for a high-yield review book. There are many high-yield books available for medical students, however, the Board Review Series books are particularly good; as are the High-Yield books. If you find that you do need the actual textbook for a particular topic, most school libraries have several copies. Often it is possible to photocopy the relevant pages.
Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #5: Don’t Go to Class
This medical student tip may at first seem absurd. However, unless you are an auditory learner, most of the time in lectures is wasted. There are some classes that you should not miss. These include laboratories, clinical skills sessions, and small group didactics. However, traditional lectures have limited value for medical students. Instead, use the time for reading your syllabus and high-yield materials. Take high-quality notes and review them often. Many schools will provide students with recordings of the lectures. This is useful because you can decide which parts of the lecture you want to hear and you can decide when to listen to it. In addition, you can increase the speed of the recording and get through the lecture in less time.
Medical Student Tips for Success- Tip #6: Don’t Give Up… Unless You Really Want to
Medical school is a difficult but exciting time. You can plan ahead to make the transition into your new life as easy as possible. However, at some point you will feel depressed, discouraged, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. These feelings are completely normal and are experienced by everybody who attends medical school. If you encounter a physician who claims not to have experienced these feelings, they are either lying to you or they have forgotten. Although it is normal to get discouraged, it is important to keep going.
You might feel stupid and incapable of succeeding, but this is not true. You earned your spot in medical school. Admissions committees know what they are doing. The fact that you were admitted means that you are capable of becoming a physician. However, you are the only person who knows if you truly desire to be a physician. If you do, keep working- you can do it. However, if you unhappiness is due to your dissatisfaction with your career choice, it is not too late to change course. It is much better to withdraw from medical school than it is to be stuck in an unfulfilling career.
It is possible to make it through medical school relatively unscathed. These tips will guide you on the right path. Always be ready to learn, treat others kindly, and be grateful for the difficult but rewarding experience you have earned.