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How to survive your first year of medical school

I am starting my second year of medical school this week, and sometimes I wonder how I made it out of first year alive! This past year was, to say the least, a very humbling experience. I learned a lot about myself, and learned how to challenge myself in ways I never knew were possible. Here are 5 tips for making it through your first year of medical school:

1. Make time for yourself. This is a serious must. For me, I used my time cooking dinner and working out to relax my mind and feel like a "normal person" again. I didn't make it to the gym everyday, and I didn't make a healthy homemade meal every night, but I made a point to fit both in at least 3 times a week. It took me a couple months to get in a good routine, and when I finally did, it was life changing.

2. Girls' night. I could not have made it through that insane year without my amazing girlfriends! They are seriously the best. We always try to get together for a girls night at least once every couple of weeks. Most of the time it is super casual, and we just hang out at someone's house and catch up on life. It is so easy to become consumed with medical school, and forget that other things exist in the world. It was always so great to talk about something other than school.

3. You do you. Med schoolin' ain't easy. It is the most insane amount of material thrown at you in the shortest amount of time, and it is ALL important. I would hear classmates talk about how they studied all night, how great they did on an exam, how terrible they did, and everything in between. It can be very intimidating, and it can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress. It is important to not focus on what others are doing or how they are performing. Find a study plan that works for you. Make your own performance goals. Everyone in your class will become a doctor, make sure you are the best that YOU can be.

4. Get it together. Organization is key! I cannot stress this enough. With so many things constantly on your mind (classes, exams, boards, personal life, specialties, rotations, etc.) it is so easy to lose track of priorities. I spent many a night drifting away from what I was suppose to be studying, and I would find myself hours deep in some student forum on how to get a certain specialty. Probably one that didn't even interest me! Hours wasted. Making a study schedule really helped me stay on track. I would spend time each Sunday making a study schedule for the week with appropriate breaks so that I would always have something to look forward to. There is so little time, and always so much more to do. Having a realistic schedule will help you stay focused, and prevent those last minute panic attacks.

5. Remember your 'why'. This is a big one. We all have different reasons for wanting to become a physician. Whether it is your love for a certain specialty, the comfortable lifestyle, or the ability to heal so many people, you are on this crazy path for a reason. When you get a bad test score or you're just not feeling motivated for endless hours of studying, remind yourself why you chose this profession and don't give up on that dream.

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