The following piece was written by Dr. Sahil Mehta. Sahil has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former admissions interviewer for Columbia University. He is the founder of MedSchoolCoach.
So, you’ve gone through the application process. You’ve written your personal statement, put on your best suit, shared your personal stories at your medical school interview, and just got that email or phone call saying you are in! Congratulations! That is an amazing accomplishment – getting into medical school is probably the hardest part of your journey. But there are plenty of trials and tribulations that lay ahead. As a medical student, you will be expected to do things you never thought you could. On the wards, you’ll be looked upon by patients as their doctor sometimes, even though you may have just Googled their disease five minutes before meeting them! Relax – everyone goes through it, but here are three basic tips on how to succeed in medical school.
1. Read every night
Medical school will throw a mountain of information at you. From anatomy to physiology to pathology, you’ll be constantly bombarded with new material. The best thing you can do is to stay on top of your daily classes. Read every day so that you are not left having to memorize all of anatomy the night before your final. It’s more important than you think – many of you may have been able to succeed in undergrad by simply cramming for tests. That becomes harder and harder in medical school, as the amount of information is enormous. Take two hours every day to review the material you learned in class and to preview the next day’s lectures. Medical schools have great online resources and lectures, so it’s easy to know what is coming.
2. Understand what you can, rather than memorize
A lot of medical school is about memorizing facts, whether it be anatomical locations, drug dosages and interactions, or the cell cycle. But whenever you can, try to understand the material, rather than memorize it. Why is the left recurrent laryngeal nerve important clinically? If you ask yourself that question rather than memorize where it goes, you’ll remember the material much longer, and it will be much more relevant to you when you get on the wards!
3. Form study groups
Medical school is a great time to make new friends, but given your eight hours of class and two hours of reading every night, that doesn’t always leave much time. Remember that studying can be a social activity. Get your friends to study with you, quiz you, and help you understand the material. Unlike college, every one of your friends in medical school is taking the same classes as you, so use it to your advantage. Small group learning is essential for success in medical school and in medicine in general!
There are many more ways to succeed in medical school, but hopefully this short list will get you started! Best of luck in the future. Remember, while the hardest part may be over, there is still plenty more work to be done as you continue on your journey to become a physician.
Check out MedSchoolCoach for more information.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.