5 Survival Tips For Medical Students

Becoming a physician can be one of the most rewarding careers, but it comes at a significant cost. Medical school is demanding, and that stress can overwhelm you. Consider five survival tips for today’s medical student. 

1. Find a Study Partner and/or Group

Having a study partner gives you someone to bounce ideas from and helps you be more productive as you study. A partner keeps you accountable for your work ethic and you do the same. 

You could also consider a study group. Study groups allow you to discuss difficult subjects with others to get a better understanding of them

2. Find a Mentor or Two

Mentors offer advice and support to help you advance in your career. They will also know all the tricks to get you through some of the most grueling four years of your life. Find one or two, and let them guide your path. 

That might mean looking beyond the boundaries of the school. Successful medical students are proactive in their search for extra experience and information outside of what is included in the medical school curriculum. Some examples are participating in a research project or volunteering in the community. The right mentors will assist you in making professional contacts that will lead to residencies, fellowships, and other possibilities.

3. Set Boundaries

In case you hadn’t heard, medical school can be both challenging and chaotic – and it’s going to be tempting to improvise, skip sleep, and maybe even skip meals. The solution is to set boundaries ahead of time, before you encounter the stressful scenario, helping you stay on point with your study while also avoiding depleting your mental resources over time. One of the most critical boundaries to establish a sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will improve your performance. 

Create a few routines that involve others, such as calling your parents at set times, and make sure friends understand you are not available to go out and do things every single night. That will help prevent distractions. At the same time, part of healthy boundary setting is to know when to break them – sometimes staying up a little later during your final week of the semester is ok. Staying up til 2am right in the first week on the other hand, may indicate that you could improve your judgement a little! 

4. Set Goals For Yourself

It is critical to set daily goals that are both practical and attainable. Remember to take it slowly. You’re in it for the long haul, so focus on daily tasks rather than trying to do everything at the last minute.

Make one of your goals to explore all your options. Consider doing one or more away rotations (typically in your fourth year) to broaden your experience. Finally, join specialty interest groups and career-advising opportunities given by your medical school when your schedule allows.

5. Get Your Study System Locked Down Fast

There will be a lot of information, and it’s all essential. This makes having an excellent study regimen crucial if you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of content you need to learn.

Determine whatever approaches and frameworks are most effective for you, and integrate them into your daily schedule. Do you learn better in groups, for example? If so, look for study partners early. Create a standardized approach that can be implemented consistently regardless of what you are studying based on what works for you. This is especially important during clinical rotations, when blocks of study material, specialist journal reviews, and board review questions will be visited regularly.

Medical school is a challenge but one worth taking, so go into it knowing that you can survive with careful planning. 

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