June 08, 2020

Student Insights – Things I wish I’d known before starting medical school

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As we, your Vital Signs Co-Contributors, wrap up our additions to the 2020 entering class Vital Signs newsletter, we want to congratulate you again on your acceptance into the UABSOM! These are strange and difficult times, and in the middle of it all, you are navigating the pre-matriculation checklist, obtaining leases and loans, leaving loved ones, and speeding closer and closer to the start of your medical school career. In our last effort to help prepare you for this journey, we have put together some thoughts of our own regarding what we wish we had known before beginning medical school:

Collier.MeMe2“A lot of people will tell you to relax over the summer and enjoy time with friends and family. Do the things you enjoy rather than try to get ahead by studying. That is definitely good advice. I’d like to focus on the year ahead because a lot of changes are coming your way, but it’s going to be all right.

As with many things in life, there are some wrong ways to get through medical school, but there is no one right way. What’s most important is to find the balance that works for you. On academics, I’d say to do the best you can, reassess the situation as needed, adapt, and repeat. Don’t be unwilling to change things up if they’re not working, and don’t be afraid to ask for help with course content or reach out to others for emotional support.

On life outside of school, I strongly recommend that you make time for the people you love and the passions you have outside of medicine. Don’t just grind through the next few years without taking proper care of yourself. Again, this may take some adjusting and readjusting as time goes on. But if you truly enjoy your life while you’re in medical school, you will learn—and appreciate what you learn—much better.”

–MeMe (Carolee) Collier

Chumley.MaryC“Before starting medical school, I wish that I had known that my life as I knew it was not over! I know this has been said before, but I think it is important to remember.

I had a fear as I began medical school that I would no longer have time for family, friends, hobbies, or anything else I enjoyed. While medical school certainly takes up a lot of my time, I have still been able to make time for things that are important to me.

Don’t look at medical school as a new chapter in your life, look at medical school as an important element which you are going to incorporate into your life as it is now. Make sure to take the time to study and prepare, but find your balance and take time to do things you enjoy!”

–Mary Claire Chumley

Kraus.Abigayle2"The main thing I wished I knew before I started medical school is to prioritize opportunities that have come my way and be okay with saying “no.”

As Type A medical school students, we want to do everything and be accomplished in everything. However, if you spread yourself too thin, then life can be very stressful, and you can find yourself forgetting things and letting people down.

Find something you really enjoy, prioritize that, and make sure you leave room in your schedule for relaxation!”

–Abigayle Kraus