With only a week left of this year, it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Every year, we set goals for ourselves, and while you may have accomplished several of them, what do you want to achieve in the coming year? And, as a medical student, how can you distinguish yourself? Keep in mind, residency programs look for students who demonstrate ambition by consistently challenging themselves. Here are some options to help you set career-specific goals for 2014:


The number of research positions out there far outweighs the number of medical students, so there are hundreds of opportunities out there. You just need to know where to find them.  Start by talking with your professors. They may need help with their own research or might be able to guide you with an independent research project.  While labs are often looking for assistance, independent projects provide an excellent opportunity to pursue your own interests and develop ideas for a scholarly project.  After completing your research, there are numerous places to submit your work.

American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine students have presented their research at medical conferences and had their work published in renowned academic journals. Recently, AUA student Irfan Khan was published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology. Submitting your work to peer-reviewed academic journals can be a long and tedious process (check out these guidelines from the AAMC as an example), but if your work is accepted, you’ll significantly enhance your residency applications.

Attend a Medical Conference

By attending a medical conference, you’ll be exposed to the latest advances in your field of interest and be able to network with physicians.  Here are some notable conferences coming up next year: the American College of Physicians, the AMSA Annual Convention, the American Medical Association, and much more. Each state has a medical association as well. Find out if your home state is hosting a chapter conference next year and attend. Attendance won’t be as high as national conventions, but you’ll have more opportunities to network.

Improve your GPA

Even if your GPA is already high, there’s always room for improvement. Classes will become progressively difficult as you continue medical school. If you need to improve your study skills, the Education Department (ED) is here to help AUA students who want to better themselves academically and professionally.

Study for the USMLE

It’s never too early to study for the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1. Having a deep understanding of how the exam functions is the key to succeeding on it. Even if you’re a first semester student, start small by taking a few minutes each day to answer some sample exam questions. If you’re nearing the fourth semester, complete a full practice exam every week. See our previous blog on where to find sample questions and tests.

Join Extracurricular Activities

Been putting off joining AUA’s AMSA chapter? Want to become a tutor at the ED? Now is the perfect time to join. Most Caribbean medical schools don’t offer as many extracurricular activities as AUA does. AUA has dozens of options to choose from, including the Student Government Association, the Emergency Medicine Interest Group, AUA Pulse News, and many religious organizations. If you’re interested in playing cricket or football, there are intramural sports teams as well.

These are just a few avenues to explore for the coming year. The possibilities are endless. No matter what you decide to do, resolve to make 2014 the year you make it happen.

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you already lined up what you want to do next year?