100 THINGS YOU’LL LEARN YOUR FIRST YEAR OF MEDICAL SCHOOL

Here’s a tongue-in-cheek list I kept throughout this first year of things I learned as an MS1. I thought I would share it with you all for your reading pleasure. 🙂

This list includes gems like:

  • Pathology is snooze-worthy.
  • By the end of first year, you will sleep with your copy of first aid
  • Medical shows on TV will start to piss you off because you know just enough to know they’re doing it wrong.
  • Some people in your class will sleep together—if you’re smart you’ll find your sexual partners places where you don’t have to see them every day if it all goes wrong!
  • You will at least once walk into Starbucks still wearing your stethoscope and people WILL look at you like you’re either 1) an asshole or 2) a kid playing dress up.

as well as actual important things you might want to know about how I survived MS1 year. 🙂

CLICK THROUGH! 🙂

100 Things You’ll Learn First Year of Medical School

(Note: this is by no means a guide for everyone or the only way to get through medical school. It’s just what I learned and what worked for me. ALSO please read this with the tongue-in-cheek humor that I wrote it with!)

On Studying

1. You’ll develop strange study habits—like talking out loud to yourself, or repeating stupid mnemonics every time you have to recall a certain piece of information.

2. You will learn that for almost any set of symptoms the answer could always be diabetes, pregnancy, SLE, or thyroid problems.

3. You will quickly learn a very long list of abbreviations and will soon use them in text messages and confuse the fuck out of your family members when you text your mom things like “Did an H&P on 23yoF w/ MVP today”.

4. The words “high yield” will become your best friend.

5. You will learn that anything you ever needed to know about pathology is inRobbins and that all pathologists just copy right out of it when they teach.

6. You’ll learn to not waste your time—if a study method isn’t working, you’llmove on and try something else.

7. You will more than once find yourself at a table with a laptop, an iPad, two textbooks and several pages of notes all open in front of you and you will question your existence.

8. Look up the fancy medical terms you don’t know. And don’t use them if you’re not sure what they mean—it will just make you look stupid in front of an attending.

9. You’ll learn just how short an hour of actual study time is…you can get almost nothing done in just an hour. It goes by SO fast

10. Don’t study the night after an exam. Take some time off to just decompress. Only gunners start studying the night after the exam.

11. My personal opinion is that you should be studying by hand! WRITE out your notes again, DRAW diagrams. Cover white boards, fill notebooks. Just write write write write—reading the material is no longer going to be enough.

11a. If you’re like me and take notes by hand you will go through more pens in a month than you went through in your entire undergraduate career.

12. Study a little bit every weekend. Not just exam weekends. That way on exam weekends you can actually still find some time to sleep. (But don’t study every hour of the weekend—treat yourself, buy food, sleep, hang out with friends, whatever!)

13. You WANT a big chalkboard or white board. You really do.

14. Invest in a giant desk—you will be thankful you did

15. Stop trying to get through the end of the week—just get through tomorrow.

16. Start ahead of time on things that you need to get done.

17. It’s better to sleep the night before the test instead of cramming an extra hours. Sleeping will make you perform better than that little bit of extra knowledge anyway.

18. Learn how to ignore your internet for a couple of hours at a time.

19. Don’t get behind whenever possible. It’s too hard to catch up—don’t think you can blow off two days of lecture and then wrap it up in a couple hours—it will take you 2 extra days.

20. You will learn that you can routinely sit in a library for six hours without a study break

On Step 1

21. At the beginning of first year, Step 1 will seem like something that’s too far off to worry about, before the end of first year, it will already consume your thoughts.

22. Start training yourself now to study for Step 1. Train to study longer without any distractions—no music, no TV, no internet around. Train now because you can’t run a marathon without training.

23. When you first start medical school you won’t think that you really have tobuy First Aid as soon as all the second years tell you to do it—you will be wrong.

24. By the end of first year, you will sleep with your copy of first aid.

25. You will also take it everywhere with you—everywhere.

26. You’ll have a QBank app on your phone.

On how not to be a gunner

27. Don’t be a gunner.

28. Avoid the gunners.

29. Don’t ask other people about their grades.

30. Don’t volunteer information about yours. It’s fine to say “that test was hard” or “I’m pretty happy with how I did”, but don’t be that asshole who’s bragging about getting a 95% on an exam with an average of 70—even if you did.

31. Don’t ask questions in class just to look smart or to show people up.

On classes

32. You will learn how to bullshit your way through every non-core course you have—if you have an ethics assignment you will write it in 5 minutes right before it’s due because you were too busy studying to get it done.

33. You will learn to never wear your anatomy scrubs out of the lab.

34. You will learn how to deal with being in the anatomy lab alone late at night or early in the morning. It will no longer be creepy to you to be the only living person in a room with 30 dead bodies.

35. At least once a week a professor will forget that you’re MS1s and try to teach like you were all residents.

36. At least once a week a professor will think that 50 minutes is enough time to get through 100 slides—they will fail.

37. Pathology is snooze-worthy just read Robbins instead.

On the rest of your life/lack thereof

38. Try not to make hard and fast commitments, your schedule will change. You will have to deal with the fact that sometimes they throw random things into your schedule, or sometimes you’re stuck at the library later than you thought. Don’t commit to going to a certain workout class EVERY week, or having a dinner date at a certain time—leave yourself the flexibility to not be stressed about it and hope for people in your life who will accept that.

39. You will loose the ability to remember to get your oil changed on time, remember your mother’s birthday, or even remember what day of the week it is, but you can name all the interlukens or all the antiarhythmic drugs.—this is more important.

40. “Because I don’t have space in my brain” will become a valid excuse for everything from reasons you didn’t call a guy back to reasons you forgot to buy bread at the store.

41. You’ll finally understand what it meant when other people said “people outside medical school just won’t get it”.

42. Medical shows on TV will start to piss you off because you know just enough to know they’re doing it wrong.

43. You will drink caffeine—in one source or another—tea, coffee, energy drinks, pick your poison—and whatever you start drinking, that amount will double by the end of first year.

44. You will more than once end up with nothing left in your fridge except bread, peanut butter, and condiments.

45. Eat clean, train dirty. This is just my advice for general life. You don’t have time in med school to get sick or be worn down.

46. You become terrified of evey having children because you will be shown the size of a baby’s skull in comparison to a female pelvis, and the long long long list of possible birth defects.

47. You will very quickly stop caring about your loan money and will spend it on whatever you feel like because you just don’t have the headspace to worry about it anymore.

48. You’ll finally learn to take care of yourself first—and so that will sometimes mean blowing off friends or other commitments because you really need to just go for a run, or clean your apartment.

49. Women: It’s time to buy clothes that AREN’T jeans or the V.S. yoga pants you wore to class in college. Go invest in a pencil skirt or pants and dresses that cover more than just your ass. Learn how to do your hair and put on make up in such a way that it’s professional. Now is not the time to put on your club eyeliner.

49a. Men: Learn how to tie a tie, own shirts that actually fit and aren’t big enough to drown in, and get a REAL haircut (don’t keep the skater hair you’ve had since high school).

50. Learn how to treat yourself sometimes. Make cookies, go to dinner with your family, buy yourself a non-med school book.

51. You are an adult now. If you’re going to live with roommates make sure to have clear rules about study times and study space so they don’t interrupt you all the time.

52. Better yet—live alone.

53. Learn how to multitask on the small things (like putting your dishes away while you wait for water to boil or organizing papers while you talk to your friend on the phone) but focus on the big things (don’t try and make dinner while you watch the lecture capture of the lecture you missed, don’t try to talk to your mom and do path flashcards, it won’t work!)

54. TAKE THE SUMMER OFF before you start medical school. Don’t prestudy. Don’t try to learn anything. Just enjoy the last bits of freedom.

55. Get friendly with your school’s financial aid person—they will help you out when you have to pay rent or buy books. Be friends.

56. Have a phone that lets you check your email and schedule wherever you are at all times. You will soon become a SLAVE to these things so you should never be without access.

57. Accept your idiosyncrasies

58. If there’s something you CANNOT leave without in the morning write yourself a note on the mirror in your bathroom with a dry erase marker. You can’t leave without it if it’s staring you in the face first thing when you wake up and last thing before you leave as you do make up or brush your teeth.

59. Don’t put the personal things off that need to be done—if you need to go see a doctor—GO SEE A DOCTOR, if your car is falling apart take it in while you can—these things will only get worse with time and you’ll regret having it not get done.

60. Put off the things you can put off—if you’ve got enough food to get through the exam weekend, don’t shop till Monday. If you want to train for a marathon—wait till summer. There will be time.

61. Sometimes you will laugh because there’s nothing else to do.

62. Sometimes you will cry because there’s nothing else to do.

63. You will learn to wait to cry until you’re alone in your car.

64. You will, at least once, have a break down where you’re not sure why you’re in medical school.

65. You will get past it

66. You will have good days and bad days.

On socializing/the other members of your class

67. You will start the year going to every social event, but by the end of first year you would rather spend a Friday night alone in bed (on tumblr) with trashy television than out with friends at a bar.

68. You will drink. You will drink because some days it’s the only way to get through the week.

69. Some people in your class will sleep together—if you’re smart you’ll find your sexual partners places where you don’t have to see them everyday if it all goes wrong!

70. You will love some of the people in your class.

71. You will hate some of the people in your class.

72. You will realize that whenever a small group of people are in a high stress situation it’s just like high school all over again—if you’re smart you will stay out of the drama.

73. Some people in your class will start the year married/engaged/in relationships—more than half of them will end the year split up.

74. Don’t be your class’s social butterfly—it’s okay to tell someone you’re not going to that party, or that you’re going home early.

On your family and non-med school friends

75. You will more than once have awkward conversations with the non-med school friends you have, or your family members in which you mention that you held a (insert random organ here) today.

76. You will be asked at least once a month by someone not in medical school if your life is like Grey’s Anatomy/House/ER/any other popular medical show

77. You will start hating anyone not in medical school who claims to be “busy”.

78. Make time for your family, significant other, or the friends you want to hang onto. This will keep you sane.

On being a “doctor”

79. You will at one point be mistaken for a nurse or an actual doctor by a patient.

80. You will at one point say something stupid to a patient like “that feels good” while you’re doing a breast exam.

81. You’ll learn to recognize “normal” and will be very good at saying “that’s weird” but won’t yet be at a place where you can really say what’s wrong.

82. A patient will tell you something that will leave you without a great reply.

83. You will probably NOT decide your specialty

84. You will, however, have a long list of specialties that you DON’T want to do.

85. You will learn to brush off when someone says you’re too “pretty” or too “young” or too “old” or too “nice” or too “mean” or too anything to be in medicine.

86. You’ll learn to be okay with saying “I don’t know” when attendings ask you questions.

87. You will get pimped. It’s just a fact of life—luckily most people understand you’re only an MS1 and you’re still stupid.

88. You won’t be able to place an IV, or run a code, or prescribe medication, or even do a great ddx, but you will learn where to get a decent cup of coffee in or near the hospital, how late the library stays open, and how to smooth wrinkles out of your white coat.

89. You will at least once walk into Starbucks still wearing your stethoscope and people WILL look at you like you’re either 1) an asshole or 2) a kid playing dress up.

90. By the end of first year, you will still be bullshiting your way through how to use a reflex hammer

The TOP 10 

91. Learn to let go of your fear of imperfection—you will make mistakes. It will happen.

92. You’ll finally realize that you can’t learn EVERYTHING—this is not undergrad anymore. You will always walk into a test without having learned 100% of what was taught. It’s alright.

93. You’ll learn to compete with yourself and yourself only.

94. You will realize that if there was anything else you would rather be doing you should be doing it—the only reason you survive medical school is because there is NOTHING else you would rather do with your life. If everything else would leave you unhappy, you’ll love medical school.

95. Laugh at yourself. Laugh because it’s better than crying.

96. Remember that for this year and the next four years the #1 priority is getting through school. It’s not getting married or finding a boyfriend, it’s not training to run a marathon or writing the next great best seller, it’s not ANYTHING else except getting through school. If something else is your #1 priority you probably won’t make it through med school, you certainly won’t make it through sane. If you want to do other things you should do those BEFORE you start or after you finish, those are the only two really good options.

97. That being said, life does happen. Sometimes someone will need you, you might fall in love, or you might fall apart. Just remember to push through those times and take the time you need when you need it.

98. You’re not alone—everyone struggles. Don’t feel like you’re the only one who’s confused, or the only one who’s freaking out about something.

99. Don’t EVER give up on ANYTHING. Keep fighting until the very end.

100. This is the most amazing opportunity of your life, you will love what you do.

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