Attention first year medical students. Everything you’ve heard that scares the pants off you about medical school is true. Well, okay, most of it is true. You are about to take on some the most academically, physically and emotionally challenging training imaginable. First years can find themselves in a panic, on a path to burnout, before they ever gain a foothold.
So, take heed newbies, learn from those that have been there and follow these tips to make it through the first year and to thrive beyond that.
The sheer amount of memorization required for first years is overwhelming. But you need to make this time more about just the facts. The trick to getting through and setting yourself up for success is learning how to understand why the facts are important and the role they are going to play in your second, third and fourth years.
How? How are you supposed to do that in addition to memorizing everything you have to know for exams? Here’s the secret. By understanding context, you aren’t creating more work for yourself. You are improving your ability to retain the facts. You are making it easier on yourself.
The best way to manage this kind of learning is to leverage the technology available to you. There’s nothing wrong with flashcards on 3×5 index cards. They’re great. But you are going to get to where you need to be much more quickly with the right tech. The XebraPro™ ED clinical decision support system for students is an excellent example of the right technology. The app contains a virtually unlimited source of clinical data to provide context for the facts you are learning. And it isn’t just for first year med students. It’ll serve you well, and help you gain an edge over the competition, all the way through your residency.
Looking back after four years of medical school, one doctor has this advice to offer.
Focus on learning. Don’t get distracted by other things. Life can get messy. Keep it simple. This is good advice for your entire medical career. If you aren’t prepared to prioritize medicine, ongoing education, and your career, above almost everything else in your life, you might want to reconsider your options.
The amount of time and effort put into your studies in your first year is proportional to how competent you will feel, and will be, when you begin year two. Catching up is not an option. Think of it like just like high school math. If you flunked algebra, you’re never going to pass calculus.
Get to know like-minded, focused peers. Work with them. Support each other. We would take this last piece of advice one step further and say that you should work with people who are adopting the same technology as you. Interactive learning apps, like XebraPro™ ED, are more powerful when they are used as a group. You’ll advance your learning, improve your retention, and build a powerful base of knowledge when you are working as a team.
Medical school is tough. And the first year can make or break your career. We hope this advice helps. Keep seeking out help and advice from others who have been there. Work hard. Focus. And, take care of yourself. You’ll make it!