You’ve just taken your MCAT after years and years of fantasizing and preparation and are waiting for your induction in one of the medical colleges in your city. You experience rising tension and a growing sense of curiosity and fascination. You’re scared, you’re uncertain, you’re excited. It’s basically a mixture of polarizing emotions that you have no idea how to handle.
It is often said that medical school can be difficult. A commitment that you make prematurely as a teen, the consequences of which are something you experience as an adult. There are many jokes made about the steep learning curve associated with it, doctors “warning” pre-med students by telling them the tales of their stress and regrets. Most of the students stay committed throughout the efforts of being discouraged, until reality finally hits them like a brick wall and by that time, it’s too late to turn back!
It’s true that medical school isn’t easy and, to be fair, nothing really is. But the stressors of being a doctor-in-training, to realize that you’re being groomed to take care of a life and to make sure a person not only survives but lives happily, can become a little overwhelming.
Throughout my entire life as a medical student, the only thing that helped me keep sane was a slight shift in perspective. Here’s what you need to know to prepare yourself:
Short-term goals go a long long way!
Let’s face it; the study material is titanic! It’s huge and often considered impossible to be covered in a semester. But once it is broken down into small, short-term targets, consistency and concentration will make it possible to be covered easily.
Money is NOT a motivator
Medicine is no longer a field where money flows easily. It is no longer a profession where you can get away with being unenthused about it. Until and unless you love it and love to help people, you cannot survive.
No amount of money can convince you to enjoy something you genuinely do not enjoy!
Study to treat your patients, not to pass an exam
Passing an exam is not the goal to study for. Think of studying as a long-term preparation to treat a patient with the condition and treatment mentioned on your page. Striving to understand the mechanism of a disease is primarily the most important thing you can do as a student.
Concepts > Information & Teachers > Books
Do not go after facts. Try and connect the information presented to you in a book and make it easy to remember. Concepts will always pay off. Always!
A teacher’s perception of a piece of information is always a help to boost one’s grip on a particular topic!
The path to success is not a straight line
This is probably the most important lesson to learn as a student of medicine. There are always going to be ups and downs. The road from start to finish is hardly ever a straight line. Learn to be just comfortable enough to not paralyze yourself after a failure, but uncomfortable enough to work harder and better next time.
Don’t ignore your family or your friends. Keep everything in a balance and give yourself some time to enjoy. It will keep you from burning out and also help replenish the energy lost throughout the week. Nurture a hobby that doesn’t revolve around your career to have a better and more rounded personality than you’d otherwise have.
Enjoying yourself throughout this beautiful journey of learning is absolutely imperative. Fascination and curiosity will keep you thirsty for more knowledge and the thirst will keep you going on!