Ten things I learned in medical school (Other than, you know, the medical stuff)

I learned a great deal during the preclinical years of medical school, much of which served me well during my clinical training (although I never found a practical use for memorizing the Krebs cycle beyond boards exams). Clinical training was a whole new world, filled with hidden lessons that I didn’t find in any of my textbooks.
10. Late is a four-letter word. Be on time; rounds do not wait for the medical student. A lot of being a third year med student is simply being there. When I was on my surgery clerkship, New York was hit by hurricane Sandy. The next day, we were all there for morning rounds. On time.

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If I Had a Million Dollars (But I Don’t)

Someday, after years of school (then more school) and residency training, we will start earning doctors’ salaries. In the meantime, finances can be tight, but there are ways to cut costs, optimize the money you do have, and maybe even bring in a little extra on the side.
There’s an old moniker you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. It’s hard to make a budget if you don’t know what you’re spending currently. Take a few weeks and keep track, ideally a full month. Write down everything, regardless of how you pay for it – cash, check, credit card, bitcoin. . . Even if you have a 0% interest credit card and won’t be paying it off for a while, write it down. Then, consider your monthly income. If you’re ending the month in the black – congratulations! You’re on the right track. You may still want to decrease your expenses to reduce your overall loan burden. If you find your monthly cost of living exceeding your income, it is definitely worth your while to take a hard look at what you’re spending and how to cut back.

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This is No Lake Wobegon: When Medical School Means You’re No Longer Above Average

 “Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” 
– Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

While NPR’s Garrison Keillor entertains listeners with weekly monologues highlighting news from Lake Wobegon, his fictional home town, it is that closing line “and all the children are above average” that has taken hold in the popular culture. The Lake Wobegon Effect refers to that normal human tendency to overestimate one’s abilities.

The problem is that an average is just that, an average, meaning that while some are above, there are also those below. We all want to be above average. Who shoots for the mean and makes it into medical school? The truth is, if you made it into medical school – or even if you’re somewhere earlier along the path – you have almost certainly been “above average” academically and otherwise most of your life. You were on the honor roll from the time you started receiving grades. You graduated near or at the top of your high school class, many being valedictorians. You were in your college’s honor society and graduated some version of cum laude. You were accepted to medical school.

Average just isn’t in your vocabulary.

And then medical school happens. . .

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Navigating Your Future: A Roadmap to Specialty Exploration

Congratulations! You’re in medical school. What you will soon realize is that your answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is going to have to change. Simply saying “doctor” is no longer enough. You need to start to figure out what kind of doctor you want to be. And, although applying to residency may feel very far off, there are steps you can do starting in your first year to help you pick the specialty that best suits you.
Most of us have fairly limited exposure to different specialties as pre-meds; mine consisted primarily of shadowing cardiothoracic surgeons. Yet there is a huge diversity among medical specialties, some of which you may have never heard about. Physiatry, anyone? Others you know of can be quite different than what you had envisioned. A friend of mine recently shadowed an interventional radiologist and was surprised by the surgical nature of the specialty.

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The Dual Path: What to consider when considering an MD-PhD

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra
I was sitting in the back of a filled auditorium listening to a presentation about the medical school application process when I heard the question that would forever change my life’s trajectory. “What about MD-PhD programs?” a woman sitting somewhere down in front asked. That was the first time I had heard of the dual degree program. Having struggled to decide on my career path, this seemed like the best of all worlds: I could get an MD and a PhD.

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You're Not Alone: Mental Health Issues During Medical School

Confidential help is available for the upwards of 1 in 4 medical students who meet the criteria for depression.

Searching for Your Dumbledore: Finding a Mentor

Where would Harry be without Dumbledore? We all need mentors, and they can be critical throughout your career development. Whether you are an undergraduate thinking about applying to graduate or professional school, a medical student wading through residency options or a post-doc looking for faculty positions, the relationships you develop with your mentors can be invaluable. Mentors can give advice, provide encouragement or a reality check, offer insight from their experience, and expand your network by connecting you with their own friends and colleagues. The ideal mentoring relationship is one that evolves over time where the mentor takes a genuine interest in the success of the mentee. We all recognize that mentors are important. But how do you find them? And, once you have, how do you nurture the relationship so it can thrive?

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The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Medical Students

Congratulations! You’ve made it through O Chem, survived your MCAT, traipsed around the country to every interview you could fit in your budget, and received that elusive acceptance email. Once you take a moment to celebrate, you will realize that the real challenge lies ahead. Medical school serves as the launch pad to your career and excelling there can open the door to opportunities. Whether you want a career in academics or private practice, psychiatry or radiology or orthopedic surgery, doing well in medical school is critical to getting into the residency that will get you there. But how do you “do well”? “Study hard and do well in your clinical years” was advice I heard a lot, but hardly pointed the way to success. Now, as a fourth year medical student, I realize there are certain key habits of the successful medical student. I wish I could claim all the habits for myself – rather, they are an amalgam of what I’ve learned and what I’ve observed in others. They can help lay the foundation to your successful future.

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