THINGS EVERY PRE-MED SHOULD KNOW BEFORE BECOMING A MEDICAL STUDENT


MEDICAL STUDENT

Physicians often say every day is different, that you can never be sure what to expect. Their jobs simply involve a certain amount of unknown. Most of them will also tell you that was true while they were in the midst of their MD education journey.

No matter how much time you’ve spent preparing to become a medical student, you’re likely to encounter some things you never anticipated once classes begin. Medical school is a lot different than college.

To give you a taste of what you could encounter, we asked a handful of physicians to share what they wish they’d known before becoming medical students. Take a look at what advice they have for aspiring doctors.

THINGS EVERY PRE-MED SHOULD KNOW BEFORE BECOMING A MEDICAL STUDENT


It’s hard to fully grasp what life in medical school is like until you’re actually on campus, but this physician insight can help paint a clearer picture for you.

HAVING A WELL-PLANNED SCHEDULE IS ESSENTIAL

During college, many students get away with cramming before an exam or simply skimming through a reading assignment. Cutting corners like this just won’t work in medical school. There’s simply too much material to absorb.

YOU MIGHT NOT STUDY THE SAME WAY YOUR PEERS DO

Different students use different learning strategies—creating flashcards, highlighting text, drawing diagrams, and so on—to absorb the material. This remains true in medical school, so it isn’t always helpful to try something that works for one of your classmates.

PRACTICING MEDICINE ISN’T ALWAYS CLEAR-CUT

You probably think of medicine as a purely scientific discipline. While this is mostly true, it’s also quite nuanced. It’s very rare that actual cases will align perfectly with what you study in your reading material.
You need to take a look at the bigger picture to accurately identify a medical issue and devise an appropriate treatment plan. The sooner you get used to that idea, the better off you’ll be in medical school and beyond.

PRIORITIZING PERSONAL TIME IS A MUST

You can’t spend every second studying, nor should you try.

Making sure to reserve time for things you enjoy remains important long after medical school as well. Maintaining work-life balance is an important part of avoiding burnout later on. Instilling these habits in medical school can help set you up for success throughout your entire medical career.

IT’S CRITICAL TO START PREPARING FOR LICENSING EXAMS FROM THE BEGINNING

In college, you probably started studying for a major test a week or so in advance. You have to start early to make sure you fully grasp all the necessary material.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CERTAIN OF YOUR MEDICAL CAREER PATH

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being an orthopedic surgeon. Or maybe you’ve had your sights set on cardiology for years. Even if you feel certain of pursuing a particular field, try to keep an open mind. It’s incredibly common for medical students to have a change of heart, and that’s perfectly fine.

ASKING FOR HELP ISN’T A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

Medical school is one of the most rigorous educational paths out there. Many students find themselves struggling academically for the first time in their lives. What if this happens to you?

Seeking assistance isn’t the same as admitting defeat. Good medical schools fully anticipate that students will need some help. Quality programs should have plenty of support systems in place to help you find the resources you need.

YOU SHOULDN’T STRESS ABOUT COST TOO MUCH

It can be daunting to think about tuition and how you’ll pay for medical school but try not to ruminate on it too much. Your focus should be on your studies while working toward your MD. And it’s worth remembering you stand to earn a substantial salary once you’re practicing medicine.

That said, you shouldn’t pursue medicine out of a desire to make money. Being a physician requires a true passion for medicine and a dedication to serving patients.

If you go to medical school for the right reasons, the time commitment and cost will be well worth it.

THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL IS TO RELAX

While it can be tempting to start hitting the books in the months leading up to medical school, resist that urge. There really isn’t anything you can do that will prepare you for medical school. The next four years will be busy and sometimes difficult, so take advantage of the free time you have now.

FINAL WORD

The road to obtaining an MD is filled with experiences that can be challenging, surprising, and also rewarding. It’s not an easy journey. To succeed as a medical student, you need to work hard and remain committed.
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