4 Things to Know Before the First Day of Medical School

Medical school is a completely different animal than college.

You’re jumping into a new world and learning a new language.

Here are four things you need to know before starting your first day of medical school.

What's going on guys?

Dr. Jubbal,

First, study habits need to be perfected.

Even if you were a top student in college, like I was,

your study habits will more than likely need tweaking, like mine did.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

From active versus passive learning,

to time management,

focus tricks,

study planning,

and more,

learning the material in medical school is unlike anything you’ve ever done in college.

It’s crucial to understand your personal study style –

what works for one person may not work for another.

Are you a visual or auditory learner?

A morning person or night owl?

How is your focus after meditation or working out?

Are your most effective studying at a coffee shop,

the library, or at home?

Luckily, you can find free blog posts and videos at Med School Insiders

that will get you well on your way to studying more effectively and efficiently.

That means better grades with less time studying.

Talk about a win-win.

If you want to really take your studying to the next level,

our tutors and doctor advisors at

can guide you better than anyone.

Number two, you will doubt yourself.

Your self-confidence will come into question.

Imposter syndrome is not uncommon.

“What am I doing here? Do I really belong? Am I good enough?”

This tends to come up particularly for students who are not performing optimally

in their first or second years of medical school.

Remind yourself of the reasons you went into medicine and are becoming a doctor.

Have compassion for yourself –

after all, no one is perfect, and we are all bound to make mistakes and struggle at some point.

The key is rather to stay resilient and even become antifragile.

How will you address your struggles?

Will you be proactive and actively create a solution,

or passively feel sorry for yourself?

Reach out for support, critically assess

and be honest about what is and what is not working,

and make the necessary adjustments.

A struggling first year medical student recently reached out to me.

He was struggling with depression and his course was work suffering,

but he managed to completely turn things around.

He wanted to give back and help others who may be in a similar situation,

so he wrote a blog post chronicling his struggle and victory.

It’s actually quite inspiring. You can find a like down in the description.

Now, everyone is dealt a bad hand at some point.

It's not the cards, but rather how you play your hand thats the secret.

Number three, professionalism and hierarchy of Medicine

At each stage in your education, you’ve started from the bottom and slowly worked your way up to the top.

In high school, you started as a freshman and by the time you were a senior,

you felt like you ran the place.

Similarly in college, freshman year was a significant adjustment,

but by the time senior year came around, things were smooth sailing.

Medical school is similar,

but I would argue even more pronounced.

You’ll again be at the bottom of the hierarchy.

It goes attending physicians,

then fellows,

then residents,

then medical students.

For better or worse, medicine is a very tradition-bound profession

and hierarchy is closely adhered to in teaching hospitals.

Know your role and excel at it before moving to the next phase, and don’t get ahead of yourself.

What I mean is to be sure to respect the hospital staff and to your colleagues.

I have too frequently seen overzealous and arrogant medical students disrespect the nursing staff

or other healthcare workers.

Not only is this is an ineffective way of carrying oneself,

but those nurses will make your life a nightmare.

You’ll realize that residents and medical students who are respectful of their peers,

and more importantly the nurses,

physicians, and other hospital staff,

tend to fare better than those who don’t.

This holds true for life in general,

but even more so in medicine

Again, you’re in a traditional hierarchal profession,

where those above you will control several aspects of your training.

So be respectful.

And number four, you will change your mind about your specialty - constantly.

There are a few people that just know.

I thought I was one of them,

thinking I was gonna be a Pediatric Gastroenterologist.

Fast forward four years and I matched into plastic surgery.

You can learn my story of how I went from GI to plastics on my vlog channel.

Now in choosing your specialty, it's totally fine to change your mind or to not even have a clue.

That being said,

the only way to truly determine if a specialty is a good fit for you is by spending time in that setting.

Read about it, speak with others,

but more importantly, get hands-on experience in the form of shadowing,

clinical research, and appropriate selection of your third-year clerkships and electives.

For those of you just starting,

remember that you most likely won’t know your specialty until you do your clinical rotations.

And if you think you do already know your specialty,

be prepared to change your mind.

A lot.

Get exposure where possible, but in the meantime, prioritize your MCAT,

getting stellar grades, becoming a competitive applicant,

and matriculating to medical school.

Let me know down in the comments what you are most concerned or apprehensive about

regarding medical school.

For those of you who are already in medical school, what do you wish you knew on day one?

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