medschool

This Is How To Take Time Off During Medical School

Here is a list of a few experiences I’m happy that I did to take time off during medical school my first two years.  Recently I was up late clicking through my old Facebook pictures reliving some of the more fun moments of the past few years. As I was doing this I realized that I have done SO MANY amazing and wonderful things since starting medical school. At the beginning of M1 year, everyone tells you (jokingly or not, I can never tell) to kiss your social life (or any kind of life outside of books and medicine) goodbye. I have not found this to be necessary AT ALL and I want to encourage you all to reject this mindset. While it’s true there were times I spent 14 hour days in the library or when I was so stressed about an upcoming lab practical that I couldn’t bear to do anything besides study, there were also many times when I put other things in my life first. I think this has helped me to be more balanced and allowed me to build up a reserve of emotional strength to draw from when it comes to the tough parts of medical school. By having things outside of medical school to plan and look forward to, I don’t let studying completely define who I am as a person, which...

The Reasons Why Sleep Matters

My personal experience has taught me that consistently getting decent sleep is THE most important factor in my overall well-being—more than relationships, exercise, diet, money, or anything else. Let me list the reasons why sleep matters. Obviously I don’t currently, and likely never will (except maybe during research sabbatical), get 8 hours of sleep 7 days per week. But I always get as much sleep as possible. This means that sleep almost always comes before my husband, family, friends, studying, drinking, TV, and whatever else keeps me away from my bed.  (Of course there are exceptions.) A mentor once told me, “Whenever you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else.” Sometimes saying ‘yes’ to sleep means my life appears pretty boring from the outside. For example, when I was a 4th year med student on my surgery sub-internship, I woke up at 4:00am every day and usually didn’t get home until 7pm or later. When I got home, I ate dinner while I talked to my husband, showered, and then got in bed around 8:00pm. This was also in July, so I was actually in bed before the sun set every night. This sounds like a really pathetic existence, but I swear I was happy. Giving up some time with my husband after work in favor of getting enough sleep was worth it because I wasn’t...

Tips For Mastering Anatomy From Both Sides of The Classroom

The human body is beautifully intricate. A rite of passage for medical students, mastering anatomy lab provides an opportunity to explore and appreciate how nerves, muscles, epithelium, and connective tissue come together to form a living being. However, the sheer volume of testable information makes anatomy one of the hardest classes in the first year of medical school. I have had the pleasure to experience anatomy from the perspective both of a medical student and of a teaching assistant for undergrads. I started by tackling the mountain of information alongside my undergrad students as they studied the bones and their markings, muscles (their origins, insertions, actions, and innervations), and nerves. Then I began my own class and from the initial cut to the final dissection, I vastly expanded my knowledge that in turn helped my teaching. In the process, I developed my understanding of how to mastering anatomy, which has made a world of difference. As another school year approaches, I’ve compiled my best tips to help all incoming medical students take on this great challenge. Tip #1: Use the right resources Your professor will likely assign a textbook for the class. Use it. We had Grey’s Anatomy for Students, which was helpful because it had an overview section in the beginning of each chapter that was a good place to start understanding the material. The book also has highlighted...

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Summer Before School Starts

It’s your last summer before college starts, and if you’re like me you do not want to put it to waste.  You have just wrapped up four years of hard work and now get to pack up and leave your hometown, say goodbye to friends and family and go to your new home in college.  But one day, in the beginning of summer, before the big move, you look down at the empty bag of potato chips and sodas at feet, eyes burning after your ninth episode of your binge show that day, and you start to think to yourself that you are not making the most of your summer.  For me, my last summer before college was all about becoming self dependent and learning new things. So to avoid becoming a couch potato all summer and rather becoming more self dependent, here are 3 tips to making the most of your last summer before college:  Find Time to Relax Let’s be real: it’s the summer and you want to be on the beach somewhere turning that pasty year long skin, into a golden bronze.  To me, vacation is the number one step in enjoying your summer, but don’t get confused by my beach analogy, there are many types of vacations and ways to relax. Personally, I love to be outside whether that be at a beach, the hiking...

How To Study for the MCAT

Studying for the MCAT is daunting, but it’s something that nearly everyone who aspires to go to medical school has to do. The act of studying itself is grueling but, for me, figuring out where to start was another hurdle to overcome. What books should I use? How much time each day should I dedicate to studying? What practice questions should I use? I’m here to help you answer these questions. Because, once you figure out how you should study for the MCAT, everything else becomes pretty straightforward. Books: There are tons of companies out there that provide great material. When I studied for the MCAT in 2015, I primarily used Kaplan. At the time, I found them to be the most comprehensive and the easiest to read. The Princeton Review (PR) books, for instance, were also great for certain subjects (particularly biology), but the series lacked a lot of the necessary biochemistry material that Kaplan had an abundance of. While studying, I followed the study guide provided by AAMC. After studying an item on the list, I checked it off. I did this for every item on the list, which made the whole process of studying much easier. The good thing about the Kaplan books is that a lot of their sections and headings match up very well with the headings in the study guide. Ultimately, it could...

5 Student Loan Mistakes All Med Students Should Avoid

Managing student loan and debt requires the same diligence as managing medical school. But with so many things to consider and so many decisions to make, it is far too easy to let student loan decisions slide until “everything’s settled.” Until you’re out of residency, the period of transition for medical students is fraught. Even with the challenge of medical school behind you, what to do about the question of loans accumulated throughout the process? When dealing with student loans, and with federal student loans in particular, the worst thing you can do is turn and run in the opposite direction. For med school borrowers it can be difficult to work out a repayment plan while still living on a resident’s budget, but by planning early it’s possible to set yourself up for a debt-free future in only a couple of years. Here are a handful of mistakes all doctors should avoid when deciding how to pay back their student loans. Failure to Consolidate Loans First, there are several important differences between federal student loans and other loans. General student loans function like other debt. Federal loans qualify for a variety of important repayment options. This makes consolidation an important first step. Failure to consolidate at the start of residency is a potentially costly mistake because of the special treatment afforded qualifying federal loans. Among the most significant benefits...

How To Be More Confident In The Medical Field

The most important task for every premed and medical student is learning how to appear confident. If we want the privilege of cutting people open and prescribing potentially lethal drugs, we need steady hands. But confidence is something I’ve always struggled with, particularly in my academic life. The common theme in my feedback from faculty, bosses, and attendings has been: be more confident. This is a great problem to have. Presumably they all see a reason for me to be confident (who would tell an incompetent person to have confidence?). But it is a problem. Here’s what happens: a faculty member tells me to be more confident, and my first thought is always, Yeah, but… Yeah, but I’m not sure that what I’m saying is right. Yeah, but there’s more than one answer. Yeah, but I don’t feel confident. But what really prompts me to think, “Yeah, but”? Stephen Hawking famously said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” And it’s quite pleasant and intelligent-sounding to argue that my resistance stems from my internalization of the imperative to question one’s own knowledge. But that’s BS. In truth, my feelings stem from a much less pleasant reality, which became impossible to ignore when I was studying for Step 1: I don’t trust myself. And no situation better exemplifies this lack of trust than...