First Year of Medical School

Wow… You made it! All of your hard work in high school and undergrad has finally paid off. You no longer hold the disreputable title of “pre-med” and your journey to this point has culminated in the ultimate moment of gratification: Receiving your white coat.

The White Coat Ceremony is a day you will and should never forget. As you enter the medical field, you will quickly notice a culture of “you can always do better” developing around you. And while this can act as a positive reinforcement to your success in medical school and beyond, it is important to step back every once in a while and appreciate what you have accomplished along the way. Receiving your white coat may seem like a small accomplishment four years down the line when you are on stage getting hooded as a newly minted MD. But remember, each step along the way was essential to getting you to where you ultimately want to be in your career. Doctors are not made overnight!

Now many people might say that getting into medical school is harder than actual medical school. And while I acknowledge that I am speaking from a position of privilege (i.e. many students around the world would do just about anything to be in my position), I can wholeheartedly say that medical school has been the most difficult challenge I have taken on in my life. Of course getting into medical school is extremely difficult, with acceptance rates nearing 5%. And as I stated above, receiving your white coat truly is a celebration of all of your accomplishments. However, it is important to note that receiving your white coat is just the beginning of your medical journey. There’s still a lot of work to do, so get comfy at your desk because you will probably be spending most of your waking hours huddled over your notes and laptop!

From my experience, the biggest difference between undergrad and medical school is the frequency of studying. In undergrad, if I had an exam coming up, most of my studying would take place between 5-7 days before the exam. However, I quickly learned that this schedule of studying would not cut it in medical school! In order to get through the seemingly boundless amount of material for a medical school exam, I would need to study for several hours every single day! To say this was an adjustment is an understatement. And while most medical schools, including mine, have moved to the P/F model it was still a necessary adjustment. The amount of effort needed to just pass a medical school exam felt equivalent to the amount of effort needed to get an A in undergrad!

While the paragraph above might have you seriously questioning your life decisions, I want to end this post on a positive note. The support system you have in medical school is key to your success. Your family and friends outside of medical school can help you remember that you have a life outside of medical school. And your friends in medical school who are going through the same challenges will remind you that you are not alone in this process! Making it through the first year of medical school is no small task. But once I did, it gave me the confidence that I would succeed moving forward in medical school and that I belonged.

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