Categorized | Doctoring, Highlights

Aboot Medical School

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Kevin Dueck (Meds 2016)

With the move to residency I thought I would try and share some practical tips from my time in medical school. I already shared a few clerkship tips over at the OMSA Blog (http://omsa.squarespace.com/blog/2014/11/9/aboot-clerkship), so I won’t cover previous items such as stocking up on pens or picking up compression stocking.

25 Med School Tips

  1. Access support services early.
  2. Share in each other’s struggles and accomplishments. Look out for each other.
  3. Early on medical school is much like high school. Cliques, rumors, and all that goes with it. Be careful how much you share or of sarcasm/humor that may be taken as offensive out of context.
  4. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to have a comfortable and convenient place to live.
  5. Exercise
  6. Study for the care of patients, not to pass the test. For dry material try to picture someone coming in with the condition. What questions would you ask? What would you see? Feel? Hear? Etc. Also, try think few steps beyond the multiple choice answer, not simply the name of the top diagnosis or first line treatment. Find a way of studying that works for you.
  7. Get a mentor, preferably mentors.
  8. Mentor others.
  9. Get involved. There are many clubs, interest groups, academic opportunities, research options, chances to travel, innovate, collaborate and more. Take advantage of them, but know your limit and how to say no. There are only so many hours in the day.
  10. Calls for interest and elections close very quickly. Often there is a single opening to fill and it is given to the first interested student. Related, have a decent smartphone so you can see and respond quickly.
  11. If you want to do a larger project, one that requires substantial funding, try to secure it by the end of first year. Team projects with classmates become more difficult when everyone is on clinical rotations. Similarly, with research projects, get on them early to get a lot of the legwork done during pre-clerkship if possible. Also, as a med student people/organizations will give you an ear; you can do big things.
  12. Alcohol is used as a primary means of social bonding and coping with stress. Try to develop healthier means of coping. Ex. Exercise/athletics/yoga, mindfulness, art, journaling, weekend road trips, etc.
  13. Med school interviews don’t filter out a-holes.
  14. The top reason you get kicked out is for professionalism, not for grades. The belief seems to be that knowledge gaps can be rectified, but character gaps can’t be salvaged. Be careful on social media.
  15. You will meet many interesting, accomplished people in medical school along with impressive faculty. Enjoy it; try not to feel intimidated.
  16. Attend talks on finance; it is important. Your line of credit isn’t a blank cheque.
  17. Don’t lose yourself.
  18. Explore topics outside of medicine. Read books that aren’t medical, listen to fun podcasts, have friends outside of medicine, etc. It keeps you grounded. Most of your patients aren’t doctors; varied interests help you connect.
  19. When working in the hospital choose your attitude. You can choose to be annoyed by calls from the floor, the demands, lack of respect, etc. or you can know that there will be ridiculous calls, frustrating experiences and more and choose to maintain a positive and professional attitude. Try not to become cynical.
  20. Medical school makes your hair go gray, and in some cases fall out.
  21. Try not to lose your motivation for becoming a physician. Focus on the patient and helping them. This can be difficult with looming exams, expectations of productivity, paperwork, dictations and other responsibilities.
  22. If you choose to be a part of student government or academic committees, please keep up with your portfolio and contribute. The person before you likely put in a lot of work, don’t let it fall away.
  23. Keep on top of the required police records checks, serology, first aid/CPR, N95 testing, etc.
  24. Organizational skills are important. Being involved in multiple clubs, doing research projects, exams, deadlines, and more—you need a system. If this is the calendar on your phone, a to-do list app, a Hobonichi Techno (I’m a fan), folder system, a paper calendar, whatever. Find what works for you and stay on top of things. When things get hectic, it is key.
  25. If your school offers podcasting of lectures, it is a great resource and can save time watching them at 1.5-2x speed. At least for the first few months, I believe it is best to attend class to make social connections. Also, if a professor is lecturing in a topic of interest, it is much friendlier to walk down and introduce yourself than sending an email to connect with them.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Allyn Walsh Says:

    As I move towards retirement after 40 years of practicing and teaching medicine, I can endorse all of these wise points.

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