10 Practical Tips for Your First Year of Medical School

  1. Take EVERYONE’s advice with a grain of salt. – Your mom means well, your friends mean well, your mentors mean well, even I mean well. But even the people who have been there before you are—well—different people. They have different priorities, responsibilities, goals, and bents. So seek advice, but then craft a plan that is uniquely yours. (You’re going to be a doctor—you’re smart enough to do that.)
  2. Invest in a Crock-pot.– No joke. You can make amazing meals—fairly cheap and easy—that won’t make you the next heart attack that you will have to learn about.
  3. Freeze as Much Food as You Can! – Muffins and sandwiches for breakfast are handy. When you cook casseroles, cook double and freeze one. Pre-make your crock-pot meals and put them in plastic bags. Seriously. You’ll be fine until tests start, so take advantage of that time to STOCK UP!
  4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TA’s!- They are TA’s for a couple of reasons. They probably did well in the class and had it figured out. And they probably actually want to help you. So whatever that looks like for you, don’t feel bad for asking!
  5. Be a “Gunner”.– (Especially if you have a kid/kids!) In medical school you typically won’t survive if you aren’t. Things come up. Someone will get an ear infection the day before every one of your microbiology tests (That might be personal experience talking…) But if you are fairly on top of it, you will be able to handle crazy things that come up without being too stressed.
  6. If you can find someone affordable, have someone clean your house.- This one is probably more applicable for someone with a kid and a working spouse. But if the two of you are working the equivalent of 4 jobs, you have to cut yourself some slack somehow. I swore we wouldn’t be those people—but then I learned why people do it. You have to have some sanity, and it will relieve stress from everyone in the family. The days I walk in to a clean house are priceless.
  7. Count in Weeks, NOT Days.- 17 Weeks is much more manageable than 119 Days.
  8. Keep this in Mind: Everyone Else Feels Unprepared and Behind and Alone, Too. You’re not alone. Most of us are Type A, so we usually don’t let anyone see how stressed out we are. Just remember that just about everyone in your class feels the exact same way that you do.
  9. When All Else Fails, Walk Away for a While.– If you get to a place where you are so overloaded that all you are doing is staring at your computer screen, and nothing is sticking…STOP. Don’t waste your time. Go have dinner out somewhere. Watch a movie. Take a nap. Call your mom. Do your laundry. Nothing says that this lecture HAS to be done before any of those things. As long as it gets done at some point, you’ll be ok. Sure, sometimes you have to push through the fog….but sometimes you just can’t. And it’s ok.
  10. Remember What’s Really Important. – And that’s not medicine. It’s your family, your friends, and the journey. First year, you will forget this a lot. And that’s ok. That’s why you’re going to be an awesome doctor. Just try to re-center every once and a while. Take a break and play with the kids. Go out on a date with your spouse/significant other. Don’t forget to laugh and sleep. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Update: For the loved ones that are joining you on this journey, check out “So, You Love a Student Doctor”.

Comments ( 8 )

  • Passing this on to my nephew right now! Thanks!

    • That’s great!!! Hope it helps!!!

  • Randy Freeman

    Please share your affordable housekeeper resource.

  • Tiffany G.


    • Haha you guys have figured that out, too, huh?