Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Med School Tips.

This is an ongoing thing i have decided to do. As i go along, i will share what i have learned during this med school journey and hopefully someone, somewhere will benefit from it.

  1. Before you start med school, have as much fun as possible with your free time because after you start your time is no longer yours. So the summer before, if you can travel, see the world, whatever, do it. Don't worry too much about studying because that's pretty much all you will be doing in the coming months. 
  2. With that being said, med students do find time to party and have fun. For the average student, that usually happens after exams. If your school is on a block system like mine, you technically get the weekend off after every block to party or sleep or do whatever you deem fit. We do have some students who find time to party and stuff regularly, but don't ask me how their grades are because i don't know. Afterall, P= MD
  3. Handle your business and get your stuff in order before you start. If you have a health condition, go see your doctor, make sure it's under control and you can manage it with the stress that comes with med school. If you are not in a good, supportive relationship, my harsh advice would be to break it off because it will do you more harm than good. You will already be stressed enough, you don't need any additional stress. Trust me.
  4. When it comes to studying, i don't know about other schools, but my school pretty much wants you to give it back the way they gave you. They don't care that you have 600 pages to read. If it's on a page, regardless of how minute or irrelevant you think it is, unless they explicitly tell you not to worry about it, you better know it and know it well. Don't study like you are reading a novel. If you can't tell someone every single thing that's on a page, that means you don't know it and you are not ready to turn that page. 
  5. Be prepared for 12hr study days to be the norm. But then again, if you are just aiming to pass, you might not have to do all of that. My school has an Honors/High Pass/Pass/Low Pass/Fail grading system, and you cannot have more than one Low Pass or Fail in an academic year, so i'm sure this will be different for someone who attends a school that's just pass and fail and has a different policy.
  6. It is very important to take breaks. You can't study for 12 hours straight unless you are a machine. I haven't met a med student machine yet. Once productivity starts getting low, take a break, nap, watch TV, go play sports, exercise, whatever is your chosen form of stress reliever, do it. I think this is really important. I find blogging to be a good outlet which is why i still find the time to blog.
  7. Understand that it's not how long you study that matters but how productive you are when you are studying. Are you understanding and retaining? If not, then you are wasting precious sleep time.
  8. When it comes to how to study, you have to find what works for you. Some people get it faster than others. It's safe to start with what worked in undergrad and tweak it as you go along. I made the mistake of overhauling my whole study routine when i started and that was a bad move. All the advice out there of pre-reading, forming questions and going back to read....ermmm, did not work for me. You won't have time to finish all you have to do and know it well, if you go with that advice. So now, as soon as my eyes hit the book, i start memorising my stuff. Even if i don't understand what i'm reading, the first or second go around, by the third or fourth go around when i have it committed to memory, i find that i understand it. Try to read over your notes as many times as possible also.
  9. You have to find what works for you and stick with it regardless of what everyone else is doing. Remember, people learn differently. I am more of a visual learner than an auditory learner. Everyone has a dominant style of learning. The ideal thing would be to blend all.  I'm one of those "show me" people because i need to see it. In my school, a typical day starts at 8.15am and ends at 4 sometimes 5pm. I can't do it. I just can't. By the time I get home i will be bone tired, and probably won't start studying until 7pm and then probably be only able to get in 5hrs of studying before I have to go to bed. 5hrs of studying in med school is nothing!! I find that in order to not fall behind and still know everything, i need a good 8-12hrs of studying everyday. No joke. 
  10. Therefore, i only went to mandatory lectures and small groups for Biochem and Evidence based medicine and Anatomy lab. I don't even know what some of my professors look like. I was more in control of my time and never fell behind. I have to add that i had the study guides (lecture notes, really. Don't know why they refer to it as study guides) that we all were given, co-op notes from previous years and we get the audio and video of our lectures on itunes and the powerpoint slides on the school website. So you really don't have to go to class if you don't want to. 
  11. P= MD; If all else fails, as long as you pass, that's all that matters. Just because you were a star and the top of your class in undergrad doesn't mean that will translate into med school. Prepare to be humbled by med school. Don't be surprised to find yourself being average. Remember, most med students are smart and were the best in their class in undergrad so don't kill yourself if you are not honoring all your classes, like i said earlier, P = MD.
  12. One thing i learned this semester that i didn't think was humanly possible was that you can do med school without caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, etc etc). Now, I can't drink anything that has caffeine in it because of health reasons. Trust me, it was very scary when i went back this semester and it was a major concern for me. I had to learn the fine art of power naps which if i'm being honest i have still not mastered. The truth is caffeine really isn't good for your body, and not being able to drink it forced me to be more disciplined with my study time, knowing i don't have that help and it also forced me to get rest. 
  13. If you are able to drink caffeine, you might as well buy stocks in starbucks or invest in a good coffee maker cos you will get addicted to it and then like a lot of my classmates, develop a tolerance for it. A lot of them say, it doesn't work for them, but they still drink it. I guess there's a psychological component to that. To be honest, sometimes i wish i could drink it though, but what're you gonna do?
  14. You have to have a good support system. Family, friends, classmates, boyfriend, girlfriend, pick someone who is understanding and you can cry to and can boost you up. It doesn't have to be a bunch of people. Just find someone who understands what you are going through and can empathise. I once had someone trivialize how stressed i said i was because he is in grad school getting a PhD and he was comparing it to what he did. M'kay! It's not the same thing. That i know for a fact because i worked in a research lab for 3 years with PhD candidates and yes, they did get stressed from time to time, but it's not the constant stress that med students are under. Bottomline, find someone who understands because as they say "who no go, no know".  You will need it a lot. Today it could be you crying and tomorrow, it could be your friend. Me and my friend joke about how we recycle each other's words of encouragement. You guys will help boost each other up and remind yourselves why you chose to get into this profession. You can't do this alone. That is a one way ticket  to depression. 
  15. Yes, it is that stressful. Med school is hard. There's no way i can qualify or even quantify what i mean by hard until you experience it yourself. But it is doable, as countless people have done it before you and it is worth it, especially if this is what you want to do with your life. 
  16. All the tears, fears, anxiety are all part of the process and you just have to hang in there because it really doesn't get better :) This is your new reality, you just have to go with the flow and roll with the punches. 2nd year is harder than 1st year and so on and so forth. I was complaining to a resident friend and he said this is the life you chose for yourself, and it doesn't get better so get used to it. I felt like slapping him but he was right.
 If you are pre-med or a med student and have questions or whatever feel free to contact me. I'm always willing to help (if i can). I hope someone finds this helpful. Remember, i am speaking from my personal experience and this might not be the case for every other med student out there. This is just MY opinion. Take it for what it is.


  1. Heyy remember me?? I'm the Hungarian med-student... Anyways, dont realli hav much to say other than I realli wish sum-1 had told me all this before I left for med-skool.. My skool has quite a lot in common with your skool's teachin methods and I'm seriously going thru most of the things yhu're going thru.. What even makes it worse si that I'm in a country whose official lingo isn't English..
    Like yhu sed, it's definitely gonna get worse.. buh we'll definitely get it done too.. Sorry my comment's a bit long!! ;-)

  2. Of course i remember you. How are you doing? Hang in there, we will make it.

  3. firstly, i'm pre-med and many thks for the advice
    secondly, after reading this, i now know that med-school is not for me at all. no joke
    thirdly, good luck with stuff and i feel u're in control
    lastly, aeeshah, wow, are u in debrecen? i hope all is well. i live in budapest and im home now. i dont got o schl here tho. LEMME KNOW if there is anything i can do.

  4. I don hear....i would remind one of my kids when the time comes o....e pele...e no easy shaaa...no wonder doctors charge so much just to treat common cold sef!...*laughing*.


Hey guys, welcome to my blog. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

  © Blogger template Writer's Blog by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP