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Weekly Weigh-In: Qualities of a Successful Med Student

This week, the ProspectiveDoctor team weighs in on this question: What qualities make a successful medical student?

||Read Last Week’s Weekly Weigh-In on Med School Interview Tips||


Evan Laveman – MS1

I believe that confidence is a very important quality for a medical student to possess. As you progress in your education you’ll likely receive less positive reinforcement, and will also be consistently humbled by professors, attendings, and fellow medical students. This creates an atmosphere where you’re comfort with the information, and the assessment of your skills as a growing physician become heavily influenced by your own confidence in them. It is also the confident students that will seize new experiences, jump into new situations, and ultimately learn even more as they progress through their 4 years. For example, you will never get better at your physical exam if you are too timid to jump into it with real patients. You should not be arrogant, cocky, or reckless, but a confident medical student makes faculty and patients alike feel more comfortable, and in turn, you will feel more comfortable. I can see how confidence then works to your advantage as a doctor as well. If the doctor is the foundation of a patient’s healthcare and wellbeing, it is in everyone’s best interest for that foundation to be as stable as possible. That stability and confidence can keep you more comfortable during your time as a medical student and can help you broaden your experiences.

||Read Motivation for Medicine: This Moment||

Curiosity and Humility

Evan Shih – MS1

A successful medical student is one who views learning about medicine and pathology as a thrill, not a burden. There is no single medical student who knows everything there is to know about an organ, disease, or treatment, and thus we always have something more we could know. Some of my classmates whom I admire most are those who have taken the extra step to look up the most recent literature on a case, or who have stayed after to speak with the professor on a topic they were genuinely curious about. Those are the medical students who you want to surround yourself with, because that quest for knowledge is contagious. Hand-in-hand with curiosity comes humility. If you are admitted to med school, it most likely means you were the top 5% in most of your undergrad classes. Once you get to medical school, a big 180 happens. Attendings, residents, and older medical students all have years and years of training on you. This is almost inspiring, because it means that everybody you meet in medical school can teach you something, you just have to be humble enough to ask. From personal experience, most physicians I’ve interacted with have been eager to teach, and I remember those ideas better than any textbook chapter. Stay curious, stay humble and keep learning!

||Read What to Expect in Medical School Part 1||

Edward Chang – MS1

Even though medical schools highly value diversity in their medical school class, there are some qualities that I think pretty much every successful medical student has:

  1. Hunger to learn One of the best things about medicine is that you can never know enough. That is one of the motivations for medical students to continue studying and learning.
  2. Humility and teachability One of the biggest thoughts that come into my head every day is the fact that I really don’t know anything. I’m sure many of my classmates feel the same way. That’s why I think in order to be successful, you have to be willing to listen and learn from those who know what they are doing.
  3. Strong work ethic It’s hard to get into medical school without diligence. And it’s hard to excel in medical school without it either.
  4. Ways to relieve stress Whether it be hanging out with friends, having a hobby, doing yoga, drinking, or praying, successful medical students know how to unwind and relieve stress.
  5. Good social network And by this, I don’t mean Facebook and Twitter. Successful medical students have close friends and family that they lean on.

||Read Diversity in Secondary Medical School Applications||

Time Management

Emily Singer – MS1

Once you are a medical student, everything you learn is for treating your future patients. The medical curriculum packs in a tremendous amount of material, and the profession adds tremendous responsibility. For students, all of this can quickly become overwhelming. Managing your time and your stress levels are key to staying on top of the material and maintaining your wellbeing. As you go on in your training and are given even more tasks to juggle and responsibility for your patients’ outcomes, these qualities will ultimately make you a better doctor. Organization goes a long way to ensuring that you are staying on top of studying – a running to-do list, updated calendar, and system for your notes, flashcards, lecture materials, lab handouts, etc. will help you prioritize your time. Though initially it may require more time to get organized, in the long run it will save you time and give you the confidence that you have your responsibilities under control. Avoid letting yourself get overwhelmed – stress and anxiety can lower your productivity by causing procrastination, poor diet, substance abuse, loss of sleep, low libido, and inactivity. Managing your time will help you minimize stress and actually free up some space in your schedule to do the things that you love. A happy, healthy medical student will become a doctor that is mindful and present with his or her patients. Our success in medical school will ultimately be determined by our success as physicians, so start managing your time and stress!

||Read Organization Tips for Med School Applications||

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor.

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