I have successfully made it through the first half of my first year of med school. I have finished Gross Anatomy and Histology and am now one third of the way through Biochemistry and Medical Physiology.
So, how has it been?
Well, much of the class work was what I expected. It is hard and there is a lot to memorize, but this is exactly what I was told. The cliched “drinking from a firehose” metaphor is true, but so far things are manageable. I do constantly feel like I’m behind, but I know I’m not the only one. I know that things are just going to get harder from here, so I’m trying to make the most of any free time I have.
I’ve managed to make time to join our student section of the American Medical Association and I am also a “Warrior Ambassador” and do tours and social media for admissions. I have also been lucky enough to continue my summer research when I’ve had time. I have been very lucky that my P.I is very flexible about when I come in, and since my research was just working with data I did not have to worry about going in at a certain time to take care of animals or cell lines.
I also had time to travel to 2 different conferences to present some work I had done prior to starting school, as well as to present a poster at a school conference.
Also, I managed to go to Europe for 10 days over Thanksgiving and have a fantastic vacation while visiting family. You don’t have to give up fun when you start medical school!
What have I learned?
The biggest lesson I have learned so far is to stop listening to other people.
At the beginning of the year I went in with a plan about how I would study. It was a flexible plan since I recognized I had no idea of what the workload would be like, but I had a plan. Once school started I was bombarded with advice from those in the years above me, from professors, and even my peers. All advice was given with good intentions, but obviously, most people’s advice was contradictory: “don’t waste your time going to class” and “never skip class”; “always write up your own notes” and “don’t waste your time writing up notes”; “study with others” and “study by yourself”. I started trying to follow everyone’s advice, which was not a good plan.
I eventually fell into a good study pattern, but I still found myself getting sucked into conversations about how much people were studying and how little they were sleeping and I would start to feel as if I was doing something wrong.
At the end of the day, I passed all of my exams, so even if I was doing something wrong I can’t have been that far off.
It has been really hard to stop listening to other people. I still feel guilty when other people talk about how they studied all night while I slept a full 8 hours, but I know that I am the person who knows what is best for me.
So, the biggest piece of advice so far?
Listen to yourself.
You know what you need and how you work best.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for advice and guidance, but remember to take it all with a grain of salt. Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it will work for someone else.
Remember that you are still allowed to have fun; you don’t have to be miserable to do well.