New medical student summer tips

by Shawn Vuong

Incoming medical students, I know you’re excited about medical school. I was in your same exact position about 2 years ago to the day. Every day I went to sleep and thought about how cool medical school was going to be, how much cool stuff I was going to learn, and how much my life was going to change.

I asked myself many questions.  Am I going to be too busy to do anything? How much studying am I going to do? Is there anything I should be doing right now to prepare? What do I need to buy? Is it time to start yet?

Let me help by answering some of these questions.

1. You will have time to do stuff.F irst year is not exactly slack – but since you won’t have a part-time job or much for extra-curricular activities (compared to the number you were probably juggling as a pre-med) then it’ll seem pretty easy. There is a lot of material, but conceptually it’s fairly easy to understand. Just put in the necessary class time and a couple hours studying per day and you’ll be fine. The rest of the time you can spend drinking beer, playing video games, catching up on your favorite TV episodes, or searching for your soul mate. Believe me, you’ll have the time.

2. In the first year, you’ll definitely have to do some dedicated studying, but it probably is not as bad as you imagine. Your life will not be 12 hours of studying per day (unless it’s exam week). I would personally compare it to undergrad. Every time I had an exam coming up, I studied for it about as hard as I would study for an undergrad semester final. And for medical school finals, I’d study much harder. Yes, its a lot of studying, but you will see the sun and it’s not 24/7 like you are probably imagining. So don’t worry so much, relax.

3. You really want to prepare for medical school? Like right now? Ok, here’s how you do it. Find the most uncomfortable chair you can find, then sit in it all day. I’m serious. Get up from bed, then sit your butt in that chair until lunch. Then get up and stretch for a bit and then sit on that chair until you go to bed. That will really condition you for medical school. Imagine sitting all day in lecture, then coming home to sit and study then going to bed. It wrecks your body and your behind. So start preparing for it now so you’re conditioned. Don’t worry about studying in advance or anything like that. Just imagine how much better off you’re going to be compared to your fellow students, when you can sit there like a champ and concentrate on what the professor is saying through the most extreme chair pain. You’ll be way ahead of the curve.

4. I was never really a textbook guy, yet I bought every textbook on the list. My recommendation – call a few upperclassmen and ask them which books you need. Then go from there. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and bookshelf space.

5. No it’s not time to start. Just relax and enjoy your summer. I know everyone says that, why do you think they say it? Think about it. If you’re really a gunner, try to get some summer research in with one of the medical school doctors.

Shawn Vuong is a medical student who blogs at Medically Mind Numbing.

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