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The first year of medical school is challenging. Your whole life will circle around your education more than ever. Everything changes and adapting to all these changes quickly will help you be successful. Here are some ways to adapt to the first year of medical school:
1. Prioritize your health:
You cannot learn if your mind and body are not well. You need to eat well to have enough glucose in your body and brain. You need to work out to increase your endorphins, confidence, and overall health. You need to sleep well. Sleeping is one of the most important pillars of retaining information. You need to look for professional help when you have intrusive bad thoughts. Your health is your priority in med school. Bad health=bad performance.
Some health practices I like include using candles, essential oils, meal-prepping, and seeking professional help when necessary.
2. Discover and share with your community:
Listen, med school is hard. You should try to make every other aspect of your life as easy and practical as possible. The best way to do this is by building relationships. Be humble and friendly with the workers at the cafeteria, they will know your order by memory eventually; talk to security, and ask them how their day is every once in a while. They will appreciate it and won’t think twice when you need a special permit in school. Become a member of a student organization and develop a support system. Besides family and friends, connections are the support system you will need in med school.
3. Find mentors (different types of mentors):
Mentors are saviors. Mentors can also be hard to find. Connecting with a person and developing a mentor-mentee relationship will make your med school journey easier. Start by going to your professors’ office hours until you find the professor that connects with you. Go to student body meetings and talk to the board members. Go to national meetings, hospitals to go shadowing, etc.
Do not be afraid to put yourself out there and be straightforward with what you want and need from a mentor. Find out more in my post about mentors here.
4. Learn the services your school offers:
The first week of med school can be overwhelming. You need to attend multiple tours, you get a lot of new information, and learn about the different service offices at your school. There are multiple free (or affordable) and very useful services that your school offers and you do not know about. Every once in a while, when you need to get something done, go to Student Affairs, your school counselor, a student organization, or the library, and find out if they offer that service or how much it costs. It will save you a lot of time and money.
5. Start exploring study methods early:
You have probably heard “Medschool is a marathon. Not a sprint”. This is true. You will use the knowledge from your first two years for STEP1. The same will happen with STEP 2 CK and other standardized exams. Study smart for your courses but remember to prepare for the ultimate goal of passing your licensing exams. Courses are the sprint, but the STEP exams and becoming a great physician require resistance and resilience, that is the marathon. Get ready by practicing questions, and using flashcards, among other methods. This way you can figure out what works for you. Also, getting the Step 1 First Aid book for reference is a good start.
Here is a post I wrote about The Pomodoro Method and how it helps to focus while studying.
6. Schedule meetings with a counselor or wellness center:
It is important to stay on point with your mental health. Medical students are a population that is at high risk for depression, anxiety, and sleep issues, among other mental health issues. Starting to work on your time management skills, study habits, stress-relief practices, and other aspects of your life can help prevent future health problems. Be mindful of what thoughts you are having. If you feel fatigued, hopeless, isolated yourself, or don’t enjoy the things you used to, please seek professional help.
7. Do not cram:
The are many says in med school. Another one is: “Know you are falling behind before you fall behind”. The content in med school is not difficult. The problem is that there is A LOT of information you are tested for in a SHORT period of time. So start studying soon. The first week of med school, if possible.
Decorate your space:
Make your study space a space that motivates you. Also, make it a place where you love to be for long periods of time. You could try having an ergonomic chair for comfort and health purposes. A good piece of wall art that inspires you. You could also add some quotes, fake or real plants, a diffuser with your essential oils, etc.
Another important thing that you could do is to have a motivational board in your study space. I have posted about how to create one. Check it out here!
I hope this blog post helps you in your new journey!
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