How to prepare for medical school
Many students spend the months before starting medical school frantically reading textbooks in the hopes that they will be prepared when school starts. This is an unnecessary practice. Although it is wise to prepare for medical school ahead of time, reading textbooks is not the best use of your time. You will have more than enough opportunities to learn academics once school starts. Instead, you should work on preparing yourself in other ways before beginning medical school. Being mentally and emotionally prepared for medical school is extremely important. Your chances of success in medical school are high if you are happy and not stressed as a student. By preparing yourself adequately for the rigors of medical school, you will be doing yourself a huge favor.
Here is a surprising truth that many people will not tell you- medical school is not truly difficult. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Medical school technically is not difficult. The material that is taught in medical school is no more difficult that what you have encountered in your previous studies. The problem with medical school is the volume of work. Medical students are required to learn an alarming amount of material at a very rapid rate. Therefore, although the material itself is not hard, students find that unless they are extremely well organized, they do not have enough time to learn effectively. Therefore, it is a good idea to work on your organization skills as you prepare for medical school. Practice creating a schedule for yourself and adhering to it.
Unfortunately, you will encounter many 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. While medical students will often be required to perform unpleasant tasks as part of their education, 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.
Discuss Expectations with Family
Medical school coursework will be very demanding of your time. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a discussion with close family members before school starts about their expectations of you. While you are in school, you will have less time to devote to family activities. Your family will have to learn to demand less of your time, and to be understanding if your schedule changes abruptly. If your family understands that your schedule will largely be out of your control for the next four years, they will be less likely to develop unrealistic expectations or suffer hurt feelings.
Find a Hobby
Although leisure time is very limited for a medical student, it is very important to make the most of it. You will be much happier if you have an outlet that is unrelated to medicine to enjoy during your free time. Studies have shown that doctors who regularly engage in a hobby have greater job satisfaction and are less likely to experience burnout. Medical school is an ideal time to begin this healthy habit. Your hobby does not need to be anything elaborate, or something that you are exceptionally skilled at. It only needs to be something that you enjoy that is separate from your study of medicine.
It is a good idea to prepare for medical school before classes start. However, instead of trying to get a jump-start on learning academics, it is wise to prepare yourself mentally for the rigors of medical school. If you enter medical school with a plan for handling the emotional stressors you will encounter, you will be well prepared to begin a successful career in medicine.