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Hi everyone!

I was thinking it would be great if people that are going through/went through med school could share their best advice for incoming MS1... school/personnal life balance, study tips, how to maintain physical/mental health, anything goes! Your wisdom is needed!! :)

Thank you all so much!!

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1. In pre-clerkship, study just enough to pass exams. There is no difference between the MD who gets 100% on all their exams, and those who just barely pass. There is no way to learn all the material in medical school (it's just too much volume) so focus on whats important for each of your exams and move on. The important information will become clear in clerkship.

2. Everyone studies different. What worked for you in undergrad may or may not work for you in medical school because of the volume. Be open to adjusting how you learn.

3. Explore all specialties. Most new medical students seem set on one or two specialties, but really have no idea what those practices actually look like. Even a few half days of shadowing provide little to no insight. Don't rule out anything before clerkship. If you have an inclination you may be interested in something competitive, get involved in those departments (research, clinical activities) early, but just because you do doesn't mean you cant switch and are set on that path. Keep an open mind.

4. Pre-clerkship is not intense. Don't feel bad about taking weekends off without studying or using a few nights per week to grab drinks with your friends or go out to a patio. Ultimately it's not gonna matter and will benefit your mental health a lot. When you get to clerkship, this becomes more challenging, but you should still never feel guilty about taking time for yourself.

5. Sleep and eat when you can. In clerkship, be keen, but use your downtime to eat and sleep. Don't be a hardcore gunner and don't feel like you have to say yes to every single clinical opportunity or extra curricular or research opportunity. It may help you, it may not, but what certainly won't help you is burning out half way through clerkship.

6. Try your best to find a good group of like-minded friends in your med school class who you can vent to and spend all your time outside of medicine bitching about medicine. This is probably the most therapeutic thing.

7. Don't give up the things you enjoy because of lack of time. It may have to be reduced, but you can still do things you love.

8. Remember everyone is going through the same thing. No matter how shitty it feels at any one point, you're never alone and it will get better.

 

Hope that helps.

 

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Good advice from above, I'll elaborate a bit:

1) The volume of information is large, and can be difficult to manage at first. Establish a good schedule early, and regularly review your material. Don't leave things to the end thinking it's "easy" to just pass. On the other hand, you don't want to spend day and night memorizing. You want to pick out some key facts or things that are high yield, and take care of those first. I still advocate getting the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CS First Aid books. They are advanced for MS1, but do highlight many things that are very high yield. 

2) If you fail something or do badly on some assignment, it's not the end of the world. Many people will ran into bit of academic road bump here and there. Schools in general don't want to see their students fail out, so they'll give you remediation and other attempts to get things back on track. On the other hand, be careful of non-academic things that can get you. For example, unprofessional behaviour, missing attendance, verbal assault, DUI, substance misuse, and other spur of the moment impromptus that you might regret later. If you are not sure about something, then play safe, keep more of a low key. 

3) Work with the people around you. You might not like everyone in your class, or whoever is your small group facilitator, but just like the real job world you still have to work with them. Apply politesse and feign civility if that's what it takes. On the other hand, do try to make some close friends. Information asymmetry is a big hurdle to professional success, so do talk to people in your class and upper years. Keep in the loop, a lot of times opportunities are right under your eyes, but you just don't know yet. Sometimes you have to make an initiative to get something, don't be lazy and passive. For example, sometimes you have to cold email or cold call somebody to get shadowing or research experience. It's no big deal to get turned down, that'll guarantee to happen sometimes when you are looking for fellowship or job.

4) the first 2 years are relatively lower stress, so take some time to improve or enjoy yourself. Of course don't rack up 100K debt going on trips but do take some time off studying and school during the summer and do something fun and enjoyable. If you have to get something major done (eg. need major dental surgery, wedding, house renovation etc), it's better to do it in the first 2 years than during clerkship and electives. If you have personal/financial/relationship or whatever other problems that might become a trap later on, get them sorted out at beginning of med school. 

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@shikimate, thank you! Love your advice!! 

I always wonder how students know what is high yield (other than by looking at study guides)? Are the professors mentionning what is important during classes? I am afraid I wont be able to distinguish what is important and what is not in all the material!

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So there are 3 types of high yield things:

- factoids that are high yield on paper. You'll find this in practice materials like First Aid Step 1, UWorld Step 1, Canada Q bank etc. For example Chagas disease causes achalasia is high yield. How many cases of Chagas disease have I ever seen? ZERO.

- factoids that are high yield on the wards. You'll find this in clerkship oriented material like Step 2 CK First Aid, UWorld Step 2 CK, First Aid for clerkship etc. For example what is CRUB65.  I guarantee you somebody on IM will ask you this.

- scenarios that are high yield to know for paper and OSCE based exams. These you'll find in OSCE books like Gao's physican exam review, UWorld Step 2 CS, First Aid for Step 2 CS etc. For example an obese female smoker complains of leg swelling and chest discomfort after deplaning from a 12 hr flight.

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On 7/7/2021 at 1:42 PM, MaudeB said:

@shikimate, thank you! Love your advice!! 

I always wonder how students know what is high yield (other than by looking at study guides)? Are the professors mentionning what is important during classes? I am afraid I wont be able to distinguish what is important and what is not in all the material!

If you're lucky they'll mention what's testable. Much of the time they will not tell you what is testable or what is truly clinically relevant. Early on I would just keep an open mind because you won't have a good understanding what's testable or clinically relevant.

While the pre-clinical years are usually well-structured, once you hit clerkship you will realize that medical education becomes more heterogeneous, at least in Canada. Everyone will use their own resources to learn and work through each rotation. Some resources will be better than others, just as some preceptors will be better at teaching that others. Hence the ability to discern for yourself what is or isn't important will become increasingly important as you progress through your clinical years and eventually residency.

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