Orientation Week: Welcome to M1

The first week is usually the calm before the storm in medical school (as well as in dental, nursing, and physician assistant programs). While each school is inherently different and will plan your orientation week differently, there are some things I picked up on during my first week that I wanted to share with The Almost Doctor’s community as generalized advice for starting professional school.




Apartment – If you are going to a school in a new city, orientation week is the best time to get settled. I was really lucky to have a quick and easy move into my new apartment. I only had to move in the weekend prior because my apartment was fully furnished; all I had to do was organize my personal belongings and fill my fridge. A lot of my classmates actually moved in weeks prior to orientation week. I completely underestimated this aspect at first and didn’t realize how comforting it would be to come home after a long day to a clean, organized space.


Networking – As one of the oldest students in my class, I certainly have a different perspective on meeting my classmates. I know it takes me a long time to open up and make new friends; I really love my personal space and need time to be alone. Joining a professional school is different because all of these new people that you’re meeting are not only your new classmates and friends, but also future professional colleagues. Thus, I made a conscious effort to meet one new person every day in my own class and one new upperclassmen every week, especially for the first month of school. In addition to using LinkedIn, I reached out to the alumni affairs office to help me find people who attended my alma mater.


Campus – I really do not have the strongest direction and navigational skills, so I knew that one of the first things I had to do was walk around campus and find the classrooms myself. I’m so glad that I did this because the campus tour by current students wasn’t stellar. In addition to classrooms, look at the library, the gym, study spots on and off campus, and cafés.


Social Media – At this point, I hope pre-meds know to scrub their social media profiles clean during the application process. For whatever reason, I was actually surprised at how much everyone uses Facebook in professional school. I reactivated my FB profile so I wouldn’t miss updates and messages from classmates. Facebook is definitely the easiest, fastest way to message a large group and communicate with everyone. I even changed my notification settings to get screen lock notifications on my iPhone.


Congrats to you, first year, good luck and happy studying!


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Sonal Kumar

Sonal Kumar is passionate about combining science and storytelling. She has vast experiences outside of healthcare including marketing and advertising, print and broadcast journalism, including TV/radio production. Sonal is an alumna of Columbia University. She tweets @sonalkumar2011.