Even after you’ve pored over every book about medical school, there are some things that may have been left out. Here’s what you need to know:
1) Prepare to Work Harder Than You Ever Worked Before
If this wasn’t a list, this would be the only thing on here. Your books may say medical school is tough in a few throwaway lines but you won’t really know until you start. Even if you did well on the MCAT (which, by the way, can’t test for personal and professional characteristics essential to succeed as a physician), medical school is an endurance test. Prepare to be at the top of your game consistently.
2) You Don’t Have to Be an Expert From Day One
Unless you’re Tony Stark and have the power of being a super-genius™, you won’t be an expert on the first day of anything. Some will suggest that you spend the summer before your first year studying and preparing for medical school, but once school starts, breaks will never be the same again. You’ll likely spend your summers preparing for the USMLE Steps or completing clinical rotations, so spend the summer before med school doing something for yourself. Travel. Relax. Enjoy these breaks while you can.
3) You’ll Get Used to Robots with Human Emotions
Robots. They’re real. And they have realistic things to say when you talk to them. You’ll get to know them pretty well because when you’re on campus, you’ll spend a lot of time at the simulation lab. Here you’ll work with the latest medical simulators including Harvey®, Noelle®, and SimMan 3G®. Each of these simulators includes realistic patient interactions to test your bedside manner and your medical skills.
4) Your Family Will Ask You for Medical Advice (Even Before Your First Biochemistry Course)
Just because you’re in medical school, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert on everything medicine (see #2). Part of being a medical student is knowing that you don’t know everything. So, the next time a family member asks about this pain or that rash, just say you haven’t gotten that far in class. Note: this excuse cannot be used when you become a physician.
5) Movies/TV Shows with Medical Situations Will Make You Angry
Hands-on experience in medicine can have a detrimental effect on your pop culture habits. You’ll end up nitpicking every on-screen diagnosis or procedure. Worse, you will find out that House is actually a pretty terrible physician. In fact, his job as a diagnostician isn’t even a real thing. Hopefully you’ll learn to check your medical knowledge at the door and have a good time.
6) Make Time to Relax
You may have pulled all-night cram sessions as undergrad, but medical school is a completely different beast. Studying through the night will wear you out quickly. You need sleep to function. If you feel exhausted, take a break and relax a little. You’ll feel refreshed and more focused afterwards. Just make sure your breaks don’t devolve into procrastination (more on that next week).
7) Nobody Likes a Gunner
A gunner is that really annoying, overly ambitious student who only thinks of his or her own advancement and constantly shows off. Don’t be this person. Don’t ask about other people’s grades and don’t answer a question that was asked to someone else. It’s great to be on top of your studies and proud of your accomplishments, but acting like a know-it-all or throwing people under the bus is just bad karma. During Clinical Sciences especially, you’ll need to learn the value of teamwork because–
8) Teamwork and Thick Skin are Essential for Your Success
Even during Basic Sciences, your classmates will help you out if you’re having difficulty with a particular subject. AUA offers an Education Department , which offers study groups and tutoring sessions with your fellow peers. In clinical rotations, your success depends on how well you work with a team of physicians, residents, and attendings. You’ll also have to develop a thick skin because they won’t sugarcoat anything. Imagine working with Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay. Then imagine working with them every single day. They’re hard on you for a reason.
9) If You’re in it for the Money, Prepare to be Disappointed
Thinking of playing Surgeon Simulator V: The Bloodening on that Xbox One you bought with your first month’s salary? It’ll be off for a little while. Being a physician requires over 80 hours of work a week. You could work two weeks straight without a single day off. Now look at your paycheck. Considering how many hours you work, you may not be coming out ahead. If you really want to do this, you need to have a passion for medicine and an insanely disciplined lifestyle.
10) You’ll Question Why You Even Went to Med School
No matter what profession you choose, you will have these moments of doubt. No one ever said medical school was easy. If they did, they’re terrible liars. These moments are sure to come, but if you’re passionate and determined, they’re also sure to pass and you’ll remember why you chose this path. The journey to your MD may be rough but the destination is worth it.
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