Medical Mnemonist Podcast

7 Habits of Highly Successful Medical Students

Chase DiMarco talks about 7 habits of highly successful medical students, a concept borrowed from Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He tries to dissect how the book’s strategies can be applied to the medical world and explain why habits can make or break your medical journey.

  • [03:29] Be proactive
  • [04:57] Begin with the End in Mind
  • [06:23] Putting First Things First
  • [07:34] The Win-Win Situation
  • [08:53] Understand Before Understanding
  • [10:30] Synergy
  • [11:57] Sharpening Your Saw

Be Proactive

Habits are essential to our everyday lives, especially when dealing with complex topics such as healthcare and medicine. Having bad habits is okay because it’s part of being human. However, we can change that while working on our good practices. The first step is being proactive. Much of this has to do with the preparation and organization of materials, where you’ll need to learn what works best for you. There is a common saying that 90% goes into preparation and 10% goes into the actual work. It’s true because how well you prepare yourself determines how much and how long you can stay productive. If you get stuck while learning what works best for you, feel free to explore different options and strategies before settling on one.

Begin with the End in Mind

The second step is to begin with the end in mind. It’s impossible to plan for a journey without an end in mind. The journey will be confusing and full of obstacles that can be avoided if you have a clear ending in mind. If you have goals and ambitions, you obviously know what you want to archive and how you’ll go about archiving that. However, that is not to mean that your goal can’t change.

A good example is your career path. Let’s say you initially wanted to concentrate on a specific specialty and ended up becoming an entrepreneur. As long as you achieved your goal, you need not worry about what happened along the way.

Putting First Things First

Putting first things first is the third habit that can be a little tricky for some people. It requires discipline and developing good habits, priorities, and skills before it can be executed flawlessly. We often get distracted by small things such as social media, unnecessary tasks, and sometimes games, which can cost us lost productivity in the long run. If you are struggling with focusing on important tasks without getting distracted, you need to start forming good habits. Start by eliminating distractions and focusing on the study material, even if it means locking your phone in your closet.

The Win-Win Situation

Sadly, society is programmed such that for one to win, another person must lose. This mindset was initially developed by the business world and has slowly been adopted by politicians and the medical world. Yet, that’s not necessarily how things should work. We can all win if we agree to collaborate and build connections with the right people. Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, mentors, or participate in a group discussion. Once you learn something from someone or vice versa, you’ll create a win-win relationship and develop interpersonal skills that will be crucial in work settings.

Understand Before You Understand

Understand before being understood is another crucial habit of highly successful medical students. You have two ears and one mouth; thus, you should probably listen twice as much as you speak. The same applies to the medical world when participating in group discussions. Never assume that you know everything or that your opinions are always correct. Try and give others space to express themselves, and you will be amazed how some people can explain complex concepts in the simplest way possible.


After going through the entire process of figuring out what works best for you and the strategies you’d want to implement, it’s time to synergize them together. The thing to note here is that not everything will fit in perfectly, and it’s only through trial and error that you’ll know which combinations work best.

Sharpening the Saw

The final habit is sharpening the saw. Once you’ve developed all the other habits, it’s now time to sharpen them up and try to make them as perfect as possible. In doing so, you’ll better your strategy, better yourself, and become more productive. Nonetheless, the best way to remain productive is by scheduling breaks after a specific productivity period.

Check out Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and download our free pdf. Join the Medical Mnemonist Master Mind Facebook group and find our Blog posts, Podcasts, and other Resources at! Feel free to Email any Questions or Comments.

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of MedEd University, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist & Rounds to Residency podcasts creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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