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7 Deadly Sins of a Third Year Medical Student

Third year of medical school is difficult. You are constantly changing teams, meeting new people and being evaluated. Each rotation, from surgery to pediatrics, requires a different skillset, that you will have to learn on the fly. Nevertheless, there are some core skills that are required to do well in every rotation. Actually, many times the best way to do well is to simply avoid the 7 deadly sins of a third year medical student.

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1. Being annoying
I think this is by far the most important sin to avoid. Residents and attendings absolutely hate when their medical students are annoying. It’s actually better to not stand out at all rather than be annoying. Being annoying can range from not taking criticism or feedback well to asking way too many questions. Also keep in mind that each person gets annoyed by different things. It’s a good habit to ask early on in any rotation if you anything you are doing is annoying (the residents are the best people to ask).

2. Not showing enthusiasm or willingness to learn
Residents constantly tell me that the best thing that a MS3 can do is show that they care. It makes their lives easier and they are more willing to teach you. If you make it obvious that you don’t really care about the rotation (i.e. always trying to leave early or not being willing to see patients), they will definitely take notice.

3. Not being a team player
Trying to “gun” other people down, whether it is a fellow medical student or even a resident, NEVER looks good. Residencies are looking for people who know how to work well in a team. It’s natural to not get along with certain people on your rotations. This, however, does not excuse us to contribute to a malicious work environment.

4. Being late
Self-explanatory. Being late without a good reason is inexcusable.

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5. Shelf or final study procrastination
Third year of medical school is completely different from the first two years. You rarely have dedicated study time. That means that you cannot cram in the last two weeks of a rotation. The best thing to do is to study a little bit every day. Even if you’re exhausted by the end of a long work day, try to force yourself to study even for at least one hour. It will also pay much dividends on their wards because you will actually know clinically relevant things.

6. Being rude or mean to the nurses and ancillary staff
Unfortunately, there will times that nurses or ancillary staff will actually be mean or rude to you. Do not fall into the temptation of repaying the favor. If you get into a conflict with them, you will be the one who looks bad.

7. Pretending to be interested in the specialty when you are actually not
This is probably the least deadly of sins. You could pull this off if you’re really good at pretending. However, most residents can easily smell fakes. One chief resident told me that he had a previous medical student who pretended to be interested in his specific specialty, but because the chief knew he was lying, he didn’t give him honors (although he had performed well enough to potentially get honors).


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 him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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