7 Tips for Surviving Your First Two Weeks of Medical School
By Jess, MS, OMS-I, @jessmedjourney
Our first two weeks have been- well, interesting! We have all learned so much medicine, about ourselves and honestly can say that we are so meant to be here. However, we would be lying if we said it was all easy all the time- even as I’m writing this it’s a beautiful Sunday and I am in the basement at my medical school studying Drug Distribution- but hey, we have a test Friday and it’s all about having your priorities straight and taking care of yourself along the way.
With that being said: these past two weeks we’ve had: 21 lectures, 3 Directed Studies, 1 Clinical Skills lab and 1 Osteopathic Principles and Practice lab- oh and a quiz! Everyone has dealt with that differently so a bunch of my friends and I sat down and really reflected on what we’ve learned both inside and out of the classroom and want to share to help normalize and pass on our pearls of wisdom. So here’s what we came up with:
You’re going to have no idea what is going on. It’s normal.
The amount of times we’ve all said the words “I don’t know” this week is almost comical. You’re not meant to know what’s happening and there is such a learning curve that comes with being a Student Doctor for the first time. It’s hard to lean into the unknown but doing your best and not being afraid to ask questions, definitely helps.
Set some boundaries for yourself: personally and professionally
There is a way to constantly be doing work here. You can always be studying, watching lectures, running index cards, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. and scheduling the time in to stop is important and NOT feel guilty about it.
Making mistakes is expected.
I shared this on my Instagram but for my first Clinical Skills lab (when we interview a faculty member as a fake patient) I literally forgot to ask if the little girl had a fever- in front of my whole group. The next day we had OPP lab and I accidentally had my sneakers on the table, not realizing I forgot to take them off. I’ve been super scatterbrained this week- a friend of mine put her notes in her refrigerator and couldn’t find them.
Pace yourself, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Treat yourself after a long day of studying to seeing friends, eating ice cream, or get an extra hour of sleep. Don’t worry about what other people are doing with they’re study techniques.
Everyone has to find what works for them and what works for your friends may not work for you. Personally, (and this goes for my friends as well) were always pen and paper notes. We all switched to using electronic notes and using the One Note app and we love it. I am also a morning/afternoon study person and can’t focus past 8pm and then I have people like my mentor who thrive at 10 pm. It’s really about knowing yourself!
Be kind to yourself- you’re adjusting.
EVERYTHING is new. Like SO new. A new address, a new set of responsibilities, new people, a new schedule. That’s a lot to take in and expect perfection from. It’s not going to be perfect right away. You’ll struggle and probably question why you wanted to do this or if you even can (I have had the most overwhelming week). You’re also not going to have your study methods down for a while- so just try to be open to “going with the flow” for a bit. Annoying I know.
Worry about yourself as much as you worry about studying.
This also brings me to say: Schedule the time to check in and reflect through journaling, a good cup of coffee (from Starbucks or your local coffee shop) or tea, counseling, calling a good friend or family member. Your emotions have the potential to come in waves and stress comes from all sides so being aware and not shoving your emotions in a corner of your brain helps you focus believe it or not!
Most Importantly: HAVE FUN! Studying will always be there!
~Jess OMS-I, Anastasia OMS-I, Katie OMS-I and Brooke OMS-I