FIVE THINGS I WISH I’D KNEW BEFORE STARTING MED SCHOOL

by / Tuesday, 20 September 2011 / Published in Contact Us, USMLE Advice

When you finally receive that letter of acceptance into medical school, the sheer joy is overwhelming and exciting – then you get to medical school and within a couple days you have covered more information than you did in a whole undergraduate semester – so the panic starts to take over.  As I progressed through the semesters, and through the years, I’ve picked up a few key things that I truly wish I would have been told on the first day of my medical school, hopefully they make sense to you as well:

#1 – The only grade that really matters is the Step 1 result

It’s sad but true… I cannot tell you how many rock-solid students I know who scored straight A’s in med school only to stumble a bit on the Step 1 exam, who are now doing non-paid clinical jobs in order to hopefully get themselves an interview for a residency position.  On the same note, I cannot tell you how many I know who were poor students in med school (whether via sheer laziness or due to the fact that they weren’t that acute), who managed to score over 200 on the Step 1 and got themselves dozens of solid interviews.

The moral of the story here is that you should be laser-focused on Step 1 preparation from day 1 of medical school.  This test will decide your future, and if anybody tells you otherwise then they just don’t know that much about how it all works.

#2 – The loans will be painful and tough to pay off

If you are like most medical students, you have some level of student debt.  I often laugh when my non-physician friends tell me they are carrying $15K worth of undergraduate debt, then proceed to tell them I know 10 people with ten times more debt from medical school loans.  The burden is tough to handle on occasion, which makes nailing the Step 1 and getting yourself into residency that much more important.  Although, many students (like myself), use their talents in other ways than clinical medicine, but just be aware that you’ll need to have a plan in order to pay off student debt that could double as a mortgage for a first home.

#3 – People are secretly rooting for you to fail

I’ve seen a lot of jealousy over the years from people saying things such as “I could be a doctor too if I wanted”, or “We’ll see if you get through school”… etc, etc.  People are rooting for you to fail in med school, people are rooting for you to fail in life.  I hate negativity, so I will keep this one short and recommend that you use this as motivation when those thoughts about quitting start to creep into your head.

#4 – These days, a residency position is not 100% guaranteed

I will say it again…. Here are my TOP 3 ways to guarantee a medical residency position: #1 – Rock the Step 1, #2 – Rock the Step 1, and #3 – Rock the Step 1.

#5 – It is going to be an emotional roller-coaster

Even the most strong-willed individuals struggle at times to make it through life, its just how it goes.  The key to riding the roller coaster and enjoying the ride is to realize you’re in for a bumpy one… If you know rough times are ahead but that keeping your goals clear in your mind will yield the results you want, then you can ride the roller coaster and maybe even enjoy the struggles as they come your way.

Until next time!

PC

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