It’s no secret; the journey to med school is not for the faint of heart. Between endless quarters of chemistry, volunteer hours in the field, and the most daunting of all...med school applications, receiving the news that you’ve been accepted into a program is among the most exciting and rewarding moments of your life. Although getting that coveted “yes” is a huge accomplishmenton its own, it is only the beginning of what will be the most challenging chapter of your academic career.
Before stepping foot in a classroom, it is important to prepare for the road ahead. I don’t mean studying up on biochem (unless you really want to, of course). Set yourself up for success by getting extremely comfortable with who you are. This might seem like a weird thing to say, but self-awareness will give you the tools you need to succeed. There are a million ways to go about doing this, but here are my top three recommendations for preparing to be a med student:
It’s no joke, folks. Med school is a full-time job,so plan to treat it like one. Preview the curriculum for your program to get an idea of yourquarterly credit load. Research med student perspective blogs; look for common themesto help shape your expectations (spoiler alert: med students are busy!). You’ll likely spend a minimum of 40 hours a week on school during your first two years in the classroom. That’s a full-time job! As someone who worked full-time AND went to school full-time during my undergrad years, I urge you to consider being a student without the additional commitment of work. I know that this isn’t possible for everyone, but minimizing unrelated work as much as possible will help with time management and stress.
If you know that you don’t retain information from reading atextbook, find other ways to interact with the same information. The possible routes forlearning a topic are only as limited as your imagination. I am a visual learner, so while I do read assigned chapters, I don’t spend a ton of time with that modality. I draw and watch videos and look at models. Take some time to think about successful strategies that you have used in the past, and don’t be afraid to work outside of the box when certain methods just aren’t landing.
Time management is paramount for med students, and not just because you’ll be juggling a high credit load; your personal time, health and self-care must become non-negotiables in order to realistically navigate through school. If you’re a people pleaser, practice saying no when you’re not up for an invitation. Start listening to your body’s requests: Are you hungry? Cool, eat. Tired? Great, go to bed earlier. The ability to listen to your body, mind and soul, and comply with your basic needs in an efficient manner will serve you well, and ultimately, allow you to take in new information more effectively.