For many of you, this is your last summer before you start medical school. This is both an exciting and a nerve-wracking time for you. If you are someone who worries, you probably think that there are a million different things that you should know before starting medical school, and you know none of them. If you are a little more laid back then you are thinking that you have a couple of months to chill before you wing semester one.
My recommendation for you would be to find a good mix somewhere in between the two. There is no way that you will be able to know exactly what medical school will be like until you are in it. But you can become informed about some things that you can expect to see and happen.
So here are four things you should know before starting medical school.
1. It’s Alright to Take Time Off Before Starting
The four years that you are in medical school will be some of the most difficult of your life, don’t rush into it if you aren’t ready to. If you know that being a doctor is what you want to do with the rest of your life then go for it. If you are on the fence or want to try a few other things first, do that. Medical school will require discipline and a significant amount of time and effort. Put it on the back burner and come back to it later if you want to, there is no harm in that.
2. Enjoy Your “Final” Summer
Some of you may be thinking that this is something that everyone already knows, it isn’t. Over the years, I have seen countless students buying up their textbooks to get ahead in the readings. In the long run, this won’t put you as far ahead as the effort that goes into it. The medical field is constantly changing, what you teach yourself in the summer has a chance to be outdated by the time classes roll around. Take some you time and enjoy your summer before medical school starts.
3. Don’t Compare Yourself To Your Classmates
This can be a very difficult one for a lot of people, but no good will ever come from it. Most medical students have type A personalities which makes them competitive. This isn’t a bad thing, but you need to know where to draw the line. Being competitive can lead to you comparing yourself to others. Instead of focusing on why Billy got a higher test score than you, focus on learning and retaining the material to the best of your ability, if you don’t you will have a miserable medical school experience.
4. What you Did in Undergrad, May Not Work
Your study habits and techniques in undergrad may not carry over to medical school. It is very tough to get accepted into medical school, so odds are that you had a stellar undergrad career. But, because medical school teaches you more information at a faster pace, what you did may not work. Don’t get stuck in your ways and fall behind because what you did doesn’t carry over.
BONUS: You Can Have a Life Outside of Medical School
Despite the previous paragraphs talking about how much of a step up this will be for you, it is still ok for you to have a life. You will need friends and a social life to unwind after those 3 AM study sessions. Use effective time management skills to make sure that you carve out enough time for everything, but please don’t think that it needs to be all study, all the time.
Image by Sylvar from Flickr