Having completed almost one and a half years in med school (woah!), I’ve been reminiscing on my first year and how much of a learning experience it was for me. For most new things, there’s always a period of adjusting and finding your bearings. Over the course of this time, I’ve learned some valuable truths and lessons to take with me moving forward in my journey. I think other medical students and those completing other professional degrees may relate to some of these.
1. Imposter syndrome is real.
Throughout my first year, there were many times that I felt like I got into medical school by luck alone and that I didn’t deserve to be here. In those moments, I had to remind myself of all the hard years of work that I put in, and that I was deserving of my place.
2. It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant.
This phrase may seem cliche, but it is so true! Not only is there an enormous amount of information required to learn, but you have to learn (and master) all of it in such a short period of time.
3. Find your Why.
Medical school is undoubtedly hard, filled with ups and downs that will make you question why you decided to pursue it in the first place. That’s why you have to understand why you started this journey. Write it down, put it on your wall… Never forget why you started. It will keep you grounded when things get tough, which they will.
4. Fail forward.
Anticipate that you will make some mistakes. Anticipate that you may fail. When you do, learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. Use your mistakes to mold you into the medical professional that you aspire to be. Your mistakes will make you stronger, more confident, and better equipped to face challenges.
5. Choose collaboration over competition.
Medical school is hard enough, don’t make it harder! Find a good group of friends that push and motivate you. Hold each other accountable, figure out your weak points, and teach each other. Everyone is in medical school to graduate; don’t be the gunner who refuses to share resources.
6. Establish routines.
Because everything goes 2-3x as fast in medical school, it’s important to find your rhythm quickly. Figure out what works for you, what doesn’t, and make it a part of your regular routine. But make sure to leave space adjustments.
7. Have a solid support system.
Whether it’s your family, significant other or best friends, build a support system that will have you covered through medical school and beyond. Having solid people in your corner who can encourage you when times get tough will be one of the things that keep you going.
8. Life goes on.
Get adjusted to the fact that life won’t stop while you’re in medical school. You’ll miss birthdays, weddings, and other important events. Tragedies will occur and you’ll be away from those you love. I’ll be honest, this absolutely sucks. But knowing your ‘Why’, and understanding that your time in medical school is just a season can put things into perspective.
9. Have fun.
Don’t neglect yourself by studying 15 hours a day with no rest. Go to brunch, watch a movie, have fun. As the saying goes, ‘study hard, party harder’. Create a balance that keeps you healthy and focused.
What is one thing that you learned during your first year in medical school?