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5 Things I Wish I Knew First Year of Medical School

As a first year medical student, I was wide-eyed and somewhat clueless. I did not know what to really expect, but I felt as ready as I would ever be. Looking back, there are definitely some things I would tell/warn past-self.

Everyone’s first year medical school experience is obviously different, but here are 5 things I wish I knew first year of medical school:

1. Annotate lecture notes into First Aid
Every second year told all the first years not to worry about USMLE Step 1 during first year. I think this was good advice. There is no reason to worry about Step 1 that early. But I don’t think annotating first aid with lecture material necessarily counts as worrying about Step 1. First Aid is not only a helpful study tool for first year lectures but annotating it helps with future Step 1 studying during second year since all your notes are in one place.

2. Utilize Firecracker
I discovered Firecracker as a second year and instantly wished that I used it during first year. Firecracker is the perfect tool for me because I prefer flashcards and repeated testing as opposed to rereading and making outlines. Firecracker covers a lot of physiology as well, which would have nicely supplemented first year physiology lectures.

||Read: How I Study in Medical School||

3. Develop a strong relationship with an MS2
My school has a big sib little sib program that pairs MS2s with MS1s, but my big sib never reached out to me and I was too lazy to reach out to him. I met some other MS2s throughout the year but never really made an effort to build strong relationships with any of them. Looking back, I wish I did reach out to these MS2s because having an MS2 guide/mentor me would have made my life a lot easier.

4. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates
I already knew I did not want to compare myself to my classmates as I started medical school. But it’s incredibly difficult not to compare, especially since is it part of human nature. When I compared myself to my classmates, I would always wonder whether or not the admissions committee had made a mistake by accepting me. Although that feeling did not last long, I’m still fighting the temptation to compare myself because the comparisons just create unnecessary stress and anxiety.

||Read: A Future Doctor’s Greatest Struggle||

5. Keep doing what makes you happy
This is another principle that I tried to keep when starting medical school while failing to realize just how important it was. I love hanging out with friends, playing/watching sports, reading, and exercising. I tried not to sacrifice those things completely but found myself slowly doing so for the sake of studying. I’m still struggling with my “work-life balance” but I can confidently say that now I set aside time for the things I love to do and give me peace.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter @ProspectiveDr

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Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of ProspectiveDoctor.com. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to ProspectiveDoctor.com, please contact him at edwardchang@prospectivedoctor.com. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter, @ProspectiveDr.

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