Originally posted October 2014
I’m almost done with my first semester of medical school!
Thank all the stars.
In celebration that I have 2 weeks left, I’ve come up with a list of the things I should have had the moment I started to make my life easier. These are nothing more than suggestions to anyone who will be starting soon. Remember, it’s a personal experience, and everyone’s will be different, and it’s what you make of it. I just like sharing.
And if you’ve got something to add, please do!
1. Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards
If you even have the thought that you might want them, just get the stupid cards. These suckers have saved me anytime I have been stuck somewhere and I need to study. You can grab them between breaks, read them on the couch, make games out of them. Anatomy really doesn’t vary in terms of material and everyone takes anatomy.
2. A bunch of those 70 cent notebooks
But Sass, you say, I want the nice notebooks! And you get those lovely book bound notebooks with the heavy paper (if it so pleases you). BUT you’re going to need scratch paper, And yes you can use regular ruled paper or computer paper. BUT if you aren’t a fan of “holy crap I wrote something important on that paper” situations or if you’re a compulsive hoarder (we all become hoarders in med school) it’s just so much easier to have these cheap-os.
3. Some kind of calender
I don’t care how you do it, but do something. Use Google Calender, get a planner, put sticky notes everywhere, get a whiteboard calender DO SOMETHING. You may not realize it yet, but medical school says “hey we need every inch of brain power and long term memory you have” so believe me when I say, you will forget so many things if you don’t put it somewhere.
4. A good pillow
Despite how it might seem, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. So why make yourself have a harder time getting to sleep? Quick answer, don’t. Do what you can to make it easy for you get whatever amount of sleep you’re getting (every second counts). A great pillow is the simplest solution, though comfy bed sheets or a fluffy comforter can help too.
5. Reliable internet
First of all, the majority of medical education now functions via the computer, you need internet. Secondly, I know we are living off “future money”, but current you will be a much happier person if your internet doesn’t constantly cut out. Even if you study at school all the time and are never home are you gonna lie and say you don’t lose your mind watching netflix (or any variation) because the video won’t buffer? If nothing else, invest in this.
6. An arsenal of writing utensils
You will need good pens that make you happy (you need happy). You will also need pens you know you will not miss you never see them again. You will need board markers because whiteboard learning is a gift. You will need highlighters because neon yellow is the calling card for need to know. You will need pencils because we live in a world of mistakes.
7. Vitamin D
*Disclaimer I am not a doctor (just yet), this is just a suggestion, ask a medical professional to know if you should take any supplements* Do you wanna know a vitamin most people are deficient in? Vitamin D. Do you know where we get Vitamin D from? The sun. Do you want to know how often first year medical students go outside? If you guessed “only when they remember” then you are correct. Some of us are lucky enough to be outside. The rest of us need a bit of help.
Not just any snack. A good, reliable, filling and hopefully healthy snack. Med students come in three varieties when it comes to eating. Eats like a normal human, eats out a lot, and forgets to eat. I fall into the last category because I just don’t have food with me. So find a snack that makes you fall into the first category .
9. A phone that works and can access wifi
At the minimum, you need this. You need a way to stay in contact with the people who matter to you, to be notified when you’re in the library and their about to be a quiz, when you’re still new to this hole med school thing and you get your first text from a new friend. You’ll want to pull up grades on the fly, or see that they changed a class in your email. Oh, and wait until interview season starts. You just can’t avoid it, you need a phone that gets you connected.
10. Confidence in yourself
Let me tell you something about medical school. It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done so far. It’s endless hours of learning words you didn’t even know existed, things you may never see again, and pictures you can’t even grasp. It’s a world full frustration and of feeling like you aren’t good enough, or as good as everyone else. But you are. You made it this far and you can do this. So if there is one thing you do get, let it be this. Let yourself believe you can do it, and that you have the ability to be successful.