7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Medical School

Last Updated on June 22, 2022 by Laura Turner

None of us can refute the claim that a doctor’s profession is a lifesaver and a coveted one. Working in the field of medicine is viewed as a noble profession all across the globe. At the same time, being in this profession brings enormous responsibilities. If you successfully become a doctor, you would receive great dignity and respect in society.

However, it is equally true that it is not an easy task to obtain a medical degree. One needs to put in immense hard work and be deeply dedicated to achieving the end goal.

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Getting admission to a medical school is not a cakewalk either. Besides, getting into any medical school is not enough. Your purpose will be served only if you are admitted to a medical school of your choice and further in your career into a specialty of your choice, which can eventually make a difference to your career as a doctor.

If you plan to have a career in medicine, then knowing a few things beforehand can help make your journey more enjoyable and obstacle-free.

Today, we will look at the top 7 things, which a student should know before beginning medical school. Likewise, we would be busting myths around the subject of “How to become a doctor?”.

Have a Wider Perspective

Any medical doctor or a medical school student would confirm that the amount of theoretical or textbook knowledge that will be coming your way is going to be immense. Some describe it as drinking water from a firehose. We would like to make an important revelation here.

Even though the theory is important, most medical degree books contain data that has been repeatedly fed to students for many years now. If you wish to get a holistic understanding of the many concepts that are crucial in the journey of becoming a good doctor, then widening your horizons is sure to take you a long way.

You can read medicine magazines, journals, and even the latest medicine based articles that go live online regularly. By doing this you will not just gather information, but at the same time become well versed with its application and implications. Likewise, you will add value to your profession and your patients.

Don’t Memorize: Understand and Interpret

Most medical students are first focused on memorizing endless data to pass exams and get into medical school something which is suggested by most “how to get admission to medical school?” coaches.

Once they secure admission, the next agenda is to blindly memorize textbook content. The objective is to pass exams and get promoted to the next year.

What they fail to understand here is that this approach will not serve them when they start working as doctors in hospitals. Hence, what is crucial here is to lay complete focus on individual concepts, try to understand the deeper meaning hidden behind each of these intriguing subjects, ask questions, find answers, experiment, and keep expanding your knowledge base.

The important concept here is to stop mindless memorizations and instead work towards grooming yourself into becoming an accomplished doctor.

Have Undivided Focus

You do not need to be told how hard it is to become a doctor. There is a lot that you need to sacrifice to be able to do complete justice to your studies and eventually secure decent grades.

However, achieving this goal will seem far-fetched if your attention is divided between studies and other activities that bring pleasure. You need to ask yourself these questions. Is it important to go through casual texts while studying? Would it hurt to switch off the internet and stop going through your emails?

Even though studying medicine is difficult, it would become a tad bit easier if you focus entirely on studying and keep diversions at bay. In the end, remember to feed your focus and keep distractions away.

Efforts Count, Performance Follows

Every person who has successfully graduated from medical school would be familiar with the level of pressure one has to face as they transition from being a medical student to becoming a doctor. What is important for medicine students to know is that it is okay to have low scores. You need not beat yourself up for not being able to meet third-party expectations or match up to the performance of your peers.

Every doctor has been there at some point. It is not possible to shine through all your semesters. It is vital to put your best foot forward. You need to make an effort, but at the same time, it is fine if you lag at times. So make sure you avoid putting undue pressure on yourself and instead work towards becoming the best version of yourself as a doctor.

Take Time to Choose your Specialty

The field of medicine is vast and so are the number and type of diseases and illnesses. Many medical students do not stop after graduating from medical school. They go on to pursue an MD/MS or go into research and get a PhD by zeroing down on a stream of interest to them.

You must avoid rushing into things. If you do so, you might end up pursuing a specialty that fails to appeal to you. Since you will be putting in many years of life as well as all the effort to study hard, you need to essentially be doing what you enjoy and brings you happiness.

Treating a patient and giving someone the boon of life is not a small task. Give meaning to your action by choosing a specialty that is close to your heart and something you will never regret in this lifetime. To make the right decision, you should give enough thought to the decision-making process and finally make a well-informed choice.

Shadowing a Doctor

Shadowing a doctor is when you observe a doctor on his day-to-day routine to understand and observe what it is like to be a doctor and treat patients. You can opt either for half-day or full-day stints.

You need to schedule your shadowing stint. There are many medical schools that have now made it compulsory to put in a certain number of shadowing hours before joining a medical school.

By participating in shadowing activities, students will get clarity about their decision to become a doctor and most importantly will be able to figure out if they indeed want to settle for this profession and closely view and experience the journey that they will be taking in the years to come. Dr. Samuel Iglesias, CEO of Healthcare Shadowing talks about the experience and perspective this brings to a student about making a career decision.

For most medical students, it is this doctor shadowing experience, which helps them decide on their major.

Taking that Day Off Makes a Difference

If you have already started medical school or have friends, who are studying to become doctors, then you would know about the never-ending assignments, examinations, and lab experiments that are likely to hound you. Even though it is important to be on your toes and fulfill all your study tasks, taking a day off is equally important. You do need that little break, a breather of sorts.

If you are living away from your family, make sure you have a long conversation with your family. They are proud of what you have achieved, but at the same time, they miss you and they wait to hear from you. Don’t forget them in the course of achieving your professional goals.

Similarly, use this day to just unwind, maybe sit down with friends and have some fun. For a day, avoid talking about anything that is even loosely related to medical school or studies.

So, What’s the Final Word?

If you are on the verge of starting medical school or have already made an entry into this big, challenging world, avoid feeling out of place and directionless. Make sure you thoroughly glance through all the points listed above. Do not just read and forget about these caution drivers. What is vital here is to apply this guide to the time you spend at medical school.

When examinations are around the corner, instead of fretting over not being able to complete the entire syllabus, try to get hold of old question papers. This is a key point because many times the same questions get repeated in examinations. If you do so, you will not just be able to score well, but at the same time keep stress levels under check.

Also, remember it is difficult to find a student who has mastered the entire syllabus. Everyone is sailing in the same boat, so do not hesitate to be compassionate or lend a helping hand.

As you graduate from medical school and join a hospital, remember you will no longer be that person who just practices medicine; instead, you will be the medicine that touches the lives of many. Make the most of this journey. There will be many who will cherish and celebrate your presence in the years to come.