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Five Essential Tips For New Medical Students

Guest post by Annabelle Fee of SmileTutor tutoring service.

Let me start by saying, bravo! Getting into medical school is a great achievement! Hopefully, you took a celebratory break after getting your acceptance letter and spent some time with your family and friends. The next four (or more if you’re doing an MD/PhD!) years are going to be difficult and the workload will be greater than that of most undergraduate courses. You will need to plan your time carefully and take good care of yourself. To help you, we’ve singled out five essential tips for new medical students to help you along the way:

 

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#1 — Study medical coursework or exam material 6 days a week, then give yourself one day free.

Med school comes with an enormous amount of material to study and memorize, and most people entering med school know that there’s no way to get around constant studying and hard work. The problem lies in forcing yourself to take a regular resting day. It might seem like a waste of valuable time, but if you burn out, the work you’ve done beforehand will go to waste. The best way to organize yourself is to have 6 days working days and one day where you sleep-in, hang out with your friends, have lunch with your family, or do whatever else makes you happy. Work/life balance is crucial for mental health. As a future doctor, you probably already know this in theory, but it’s important to try to keep it alive in practice as well.

#2 — Avoid distractions when studying

Keep your technology away from your study books, or at least don’t be present on social media when studying. There are apps that can block sites for a desired period of time. You have a lot of studying to do and you will need breaks, but try to keep them planned. If you want, you can use social media as a reward after completing a session.

#3 — Don’t freak out

There will be times when the workload, the intensity of the course, and the length of med school will seem like too much. At some point, you will likely feel tempted to just give up. Don’t. When you feel like this, there are many ways to deal with it. You can either take a break and remove yourself from the whole situation for a couple of days, or you can push through it by hard and focused work. You can talk to someone or check in with yourself. If you need help, you can even hire a private tutor. All of these options are feasible — it just depends on what works for you. Medicine is going to be a stressful career and you need to learn your own tactics for dealing with stress.

#4 — Eat well and sleep well

Don’t forget to eat real, healthy food. Sleep at least 8 hours a night. Food and sleep are essential to keep your brain working and you cannot afford to cut back on either of them. Of course, we can all go a day without one or the other, possibly even both, but it probably won’t serve you, academically or psychologically. Planning meals can help you keep up healthy diet without taking up much time. You can also cook a bit more and have it for two days. There are many ways to control more easily what you eat. As for sleeping, it would be best if you could go to sleep around the same time every day so your body gets a rhythm it can follow. These are simple but useful tips.

#5 — Remember that  you’re not a doctor yet!

You have a lot to learn, and it will take years before you have the privilege of calling yourself a doctor. Don’t let your pride get the best of you, and don’t feel terrible about getting things wrong sometimes. You’re still learning! Every doctor was once a student like you, who also didn’t have all the information yet, so don’t be too hard on yourself. On the other hand, if people ask you for advice, be sure to tell them you are not yet a doctor. The only thing worse than the fake web-doctors are students with insufficient knowledge presenting themselves as experts. With the online medical staff, most people have enough common sense to take everything they say with a pinch of salt. If you carry yourself as a doctor – an expert – in real life, they might believe you.  Your words will carry a big weight and, if, incorrect, they can cause immense trouble.

In the end, for most future doctors, medical school is a necessary step toward the career of your dreams. Keep in mind the bigger picture — you’re going to be a doctor one day! You’ll save lives and help people through some of the most difficult times of their lives. You will make a difference. Good luck! You’ll do great.