“How to survive medical school?”
I see so many variations of this question. To be honest, I likely typed this question into Google prior to starting medical school. So I get it.
But now I’m 4 years into the experience and here’s my “light bulb” conclusion – it’s not about figuring how to survive medical school.
In fact, to truly be successful you need to get out of this mindset of just surviving.
The new Google search should be something along the lines of “How To Thrive in Medical School.”
In this post, I’m going to show you first why you need to stop just surviving medical school, and focus on how to truly own and master your experience.
A side note, if you want to “say how it is” tips from me, be sure to follow me on Instagram here!
If you want this post in the form of a video, check out the YouTube video below!
Why It’s Not Good Enough To Survive Medical School:
Have you said the following line before? “I just want to survive (insert class/rotation/major test).”
I’m sure every single one of has said this at one point or another.
But once you get through that course/rotation/test what do you say again? The same exact thing!
Over time you end up on a hamster wheel of just trying to get through.
Are you going to also try to just get through and survive residency? What about when you’re an actual doctor?
Do you think your survival mode will change because you have a new title in medicine? No. In fact, you’re strengthening this habit of trying to get to the next stepping stone.
Fast forward and 10+ years have passed with you just trying to survive. There is this false sense that the finish line is near.
But here’s the honest truth – there is no finish line in medicine. It will continue and there will always be new challenges for you.
Thus trying to survive medical school is not good enough!
Instead of trying to make it through, let’s instead focus on making you! A better version of yourself that is.
How To Thrive in Medical School:
So fine, the how to survive medical school approach is flawed. How do we instead thrive in medical school?
Here are a few of my favorite medical school tips to help you do just that!
Everything Is A Lesson:
Often we try to make it to the next finish line because we don’t see the value of what’s in front of us right now.
In medical school, everything is an opportunity to become a better version of yourself and doctor.
Each class we take is an opportunity to retain info we may use in the future for our patients.
Each rotation is an opportunity to expose ourselves to a field we may only be 100% enveloped in once. We never will have that much experience ever again.
Each patient is a lesson. They will teach us how to better communicate and care with your next patient.
But in the process of trying to survive medical school, we miss these lessons.
But to thrive in medical school you want to remember these lessons.
So next time you find yourself wanting to just get through something, ask yourself what you’d miss by being in a hurry.
Don’t Be A 24/7 Medical Student:
This is the reason why medical students hit burnout so quick.
They don’t know when to quit!
But here’s the thing – don’t let being a medical student serve as your main identity. If you do, your whole life (ups and downs) will relate back to medical school.
To truly be successful in medical school, you need to focus on balance!
How do you find balance in medical school? A great way to do this is to first pick a cut off time!
What is a cut off time? This is when you’re done being a med student for the day.
For me, I prefer to start my day quite early. You can check out my morning routine and the crazy time I wake up here.
But because I start so early, I also finish relatively early, often ending my day around 5-7 PM every day.
This provided me 5-7 hours in the evening to whatever I please. And that’s where the balance happens!
These 5-7 hours is where I get to enjoy my TV shows, focus on my fitness, and blog/make videos as much I do.
Your cut off time may be different but make sure you have one.
Your goal should be to make sure you’re not doing the typical (wake up, med school, sleep, repeat) pattern.
Focus on Progress:
I was recently asked on a residency interview what the biggest challenge was for me in med school.
My response was dealing with the imposter syndrome. (I have a whole post on what this is, why it’s a common problem in med school and how to overcome it. You can check it out here.)
I told her that the whole medical journey, unfortunately, forces us to focus on our deficiencies. We look around and notice how everyone seems to be doing better than us. John got a higher score on his test, Susie has more research experience, and Dan seems to get along with all the residents while you think you’re struggling.
The comparisons are endless. It’s also the reason med students burnout more and yet still dig themselves in a deep hole.
But here is one thing you need to remember, you can thrive in medical school by first focusing on your abundance and progress.
Think about this – you have a lot to offer. That’s why you got into medical school in the first place.
The next thing to remember is that you have come so far! Think back to the first day of medical school. You could barely pronounce atorvastatin much less understood what to do with it!
But now you feel confident with certain topics. Yes, there are a million and one topics left, but there will always be things you have left to learn. That’s what makes medicine so humbling.
Just remember you’ve come a long way. Keep focusing on that progress and each day in med school is another step forward.
This is how you stop just surviving medical school.
Hopefully, after this post, you’ll stop looking up how to survive medical school. You should now know that real question is how to thrive in medical school.
To review here are the key points from this post to help you thrive in medical school.
- Look at everything as a lesson. You will look at everything as an opportunity and thus remain optimistic.
- Don’t be a 24/7 medical student. Have a cut off time to allow time for your other hobbies and passions.
- Focus on your progress. You have come so far and have more room to grow. Focus on each phase of progress and you will remain motivated. Ultimately you will leave the survival mindset of medical school.
If you enjoyed this post, then you’ll likely enjoy these posts as well.
Stress in Medical School? Stop Doing This One Thing!
The Pursuit of a More Perfect You; My Approach Towards Personal Progress
Is Medical School Worth It? Would I Do It Again?
Studying in Medical School No More Than 5 Hours A Day
I love providing a real insight into medical school. To get weekly tips, make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel as I make videos to help you succeed on your medical journey.
That’s it for this one! See you in the next post!
Until next time my friends…