How to Excel at Your Medical School Programs in Your First Year

Whitney Awning 2016-09-30 10:00:00

We are all fully entrenched in life once again. After a couple of months off during the summer, we have returned to work, school and routine. This also includes students who have enrolled themselves into medical school programs for the very first time. It will not be a picnic.

A lot of first-year medical students will feel overwhelmed by their programs, the schedule and the amount of studying they have to do for the next few years. On top of the textbooks to peruse and the endless hours of lecture, the students also have to worry about tuition. All of this can stress out freshman students and perhaps even prompt them to give up and try something else.

You should never quit. You can excel in your field as long as you are determined and proactive. There are plenty of ways to advance in your studies and to make your life over the next few years as stressful as you can imagine.

Here are five ways to excel at your medical school programs in your first year:

Never Cram & Avoid Study Groups

There are two rules you will soon learn as you go through medical school: never cram and avoid study groups. These two rules will help you ensure that you succeed in all of your programs.

How come? Cramming is bad because you're just memorizing as much as you can without actually learning the material. Study groups are even worse because your fellow peers do not concentrate and will diverge into an array of other non-related areas, such as television shows, social media and movies. These aren't helpful in your path to become a medical professional. The Association for Psychological Science has an interesting post regarding study groups that emphasize this point.

Simply put: take your time to study the material and do it alone, or with just one other person.

Concentrate on Your Studies

Focus. Focus. Focus. This is easier said than done, but if you want to succeed then focus!

In today's world, we have so many distractions. Everything from our smartphones to Netflix, there's just so much stuff that can pull you away from the more important aspects of your studies. The easy solution to this is to simply disconnect from the Internet, put away your mobile device and lock yourself away from the rest of the world for a few hours as you study, learn and test.

Make sure you choose your programs ahead of time and understand what you are about to learn. It is always good to be prepared before every lecture. For a general idea of what medical school programs consist of, check out the All Saints University website for their curriculum outline.

Employ Time Management Systems

Ostensibly, we don't have enough time. Time is something that is finite, but with the proper time management systems enabled in our day-to-day existence then you can maximize your time.

A monthly calendar, an academic planner, a scheduler and a smartphone reminder are all tools you can incorporate into your life to ensure you have enough time to do everything you want.

The reason why everyone seems to lack the time is because they don't know how to manage it.

Mixing Lectures & Textbooks

Another thing you will learn in your early days in medical school is to balance lectures and textbooks. For some, lectures are a bane to their studies. For others, lectures are crucial to their learning. Ditto for textbooks. However, both are essential to your medical school programs.

The trick is to perform a balancing act. Sometimes you may not concentrate during the lectures or English may be your second language so you can't fathom the nuances of lectures. When it comes to textbooks, you have the source material in front of you, but your patience wears thin.

What can you do? It all depends on your needs. Perhaps a 50-50 or a 60-40 rule will suffice.

Sleep, Food & Fun

By now, you're probably wondering: what the heck are sleep, food and fun? It's been a long time since I had any of those. If that's the case then you will be in for a difficult few years.

Sleep is imperative, food is essential and fun is important. Without those then you can't survive. Remember the famous line, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? Well, this can easily be applied to your medical school programs.

For the next several years, you will need at least six hours of sleep, you will need to maintain a nutritious diet and you will need to take breaks from your studies in order to have some fun!

Just getting into medical school was hard enough. You made a lot of sacrifices in high school in order to enroll in medical school. It's likely that you will make a lot more sacrifices over the next several years. Of course, it isn't as dreary as all that. You can still lead a sane existence.

By employing the right measures, techniques and tools, you can lead a mostly balanced life.