Preparing For Your First Year of Medical School

You’ve put in the work, went through a tedious application cycle, received an acceptance, and now you’re finally about to start your first year of medical school. Congrats!  It’s completely natural to be a bit anxious about embarking on a new step on your journey to becoming a physician, and it’s pretty common to be confused about where to start. Just know that you are not alone, and eventually everything will become second nature. It never hurts to have a little guidance along the way though, so here are a few tips to help maximize your transition from pre-medical student to medical student.

The Summer Before Medical School: The summer before medical school is pretty much the last time you’ll have to truly relax without worrying about studying or other stresses involved with medical school, so take advantage of it. Travel, catch up on sleep, try new foods, visit local places you’ve never had time for, etc. Once the first year “fire hose” hits you, you’ll definitely wish you had taken the time to relax. Some students also think pre-studying will help them, but to be honest, it will only help for maybe the first two weeks of classes. The information presented will not be an issue, but rather the massive amounts of information presented will be hard for some to adjust to. It won’t matter if you already have a PhD or you’re fresh out of college, everyone will have to adjust to medical school, so no need to stress out about it before it even starts.

Start getting organized: Making it through the first year of medical school involves developing good organizational and time management skills. It never hurts to invest in a large white board, and having some type of scheduler, whether it be a planner or an electronic resource can help as well. This will help make sure you always stay on top of things. It also might help to write down a list of goals for the year along with some motivational phrases to help get you through the rough times.

Wait Before Making Large Purchases: It can be tempting to go out and buy all the medical equipment or books listed on the syllabus, but it’s best to wait it out. The class above you might already have a drive that has all the books you need in electronic form, or you might find out later on that you didn’t actually need that one piece of equipment you spent $700 on. It’s best to just wait on the advice from the upperclassmen. There is no such thing as too many highlighters, pens, pencils, etc., so feel free to go crazy on the small stuff.


Go to Orientation events: Most schools have off-campus orientation events the week before classes start, and this will give you a chance to interact with your new classmates informally and have some fun. If you’re new to the area and don’t know anyone, this can be a great way to make some new friends. And even if you’re not the most social person, it is still a good idea to attend at least one or two orientation events so that you can get an idea of who you’ll be spending at least the next two years of your life with sitting in a classroom all day.

Keep an open mind: Your first year of medical school will definitely be an experience unlike any other you’ve had in your life, so the best advice for getting ready is to keep an open mind. As with anything in life, your education will be what you make of it, so stay positive, enjoy the ride, and take it all one day at a time.



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