Medical school is often exceptionally challenging, but becoming a doctor can be one of the most rewarding professions. Not only are physicians well paid, but they have the ability to save lives and have a powerful impact on people in their moments of need. Worrying about whether or not you will get through med school with your mind intact and your career assured is nearly universal among med students. So, while we’ve published tips like this before, they bear repeating:
1. Don't Cram For Tests
It's important to study over a significant period of time instead of attempting to cram all of your studying into one night or morning. In order to manage your time effectively, it's important to create a study schedule. As a rule of thumb, always block off more time than you think you’ll actually need.
2. Study Old Tests Before Finals
Often times, teachers create similar final questions to those on old tests. In some cases, they’ll even recycle the same questions. Old questions about particularly important concepts are especially likely to be recycled. It will also give you a feel of what to expect.
3. Prioritize Assignments
It's important to more strongly focus attention on assignments that have a larger impact on your grades. Study for the assignments that you prioritized first. For instance, if you have a final coming up that counts for 30% of your grade in one class and an essay that counts for 20% of your grade in another class, it's best to study for the final first.
4. Make Time To Relax
Medical school can be exhausting, and it is impossible to get through it without blocking off a little “you time.” In order to avoid burnout, it is important to make sure that you get a good sleep each night, eat well, and exercise. Not only will practicing self-care make you feel more sane, it can (and will) make you a better doctor.
5. Remember Why You Went To Medical School
When things are challenging, it's important to remember the reasons you wanted to go into medicine. Whether you applied to med school because of your love for medicine or because you want to help people, remembering your goal will help you keep perspective, and can help keep you motivated. Reflect on what you want to be able to contribute to the world as a doctor.
6. Be Aware Of Your Study Style and Stick With It:
It's important to determine which study methods work for you early on in medical school. One way to do this is to think about what worked for you during your undergraduate years. Continue to develop skills that were effective for you, and abandon what didn't work for you. To determine your study style, ask yourself the following:
- Are you able to keep up with lectures? If you aren't always able to, it's essential to use a recorder.
- Do you need to rewrite things that you're studying? Or is highlighting enough for you?
- Do you have good note-taking abilities?
- Do you study best on your own, or in a study group? If you prefer studying with a group, it's important to carefully select who you study with. Always study with people who have a similar learning style.
- Do you learn better from reading books and notes, or from listening to lectures?
7. Form Connections During Medical School
Forming connections with other people is an important part of medicine. Not only is it important to have people who understand what you’re going through, but you’ll inevitably need to connect with your patients. It’s important to practice developing rapport with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
In addition, it’s important to develop a professional network while you’re in med school. Often times, you'll learn as much from your peers and mentors as you will from textbooks.
Finding a physician mentor will help you get through med school, so it’s helpful to find one early and meet with them frequently (if possible).
8. Shadow A Variety Of Different Specialties
It's important to figure out what you wish to specialize in while you're in med school. Shadowing physicians from different specialties is a great way to determine what specialty interests you the most.
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for Hi Quality Tutorials. He regularly produces content for a variety of education blogs, based around continuing education in a variety of fields and practices.