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Thread: Getting started

  1. #1
    seeker558 is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Getting started

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    I'm a spouse of a medical student. I've seen a lot of things and want to pass on some advice and observations. I won't give advice about which rotations to take, which professors are good, and so on. I don't have a list of the rotations and so on. No, I'd like just to give advice for people starting out.

    First, there are no guarantees about any part of medical school training. That means that you should listen to everyone, make friends with everyone, be cheerful with everyone. Then, you should ignore most information that you get, understand that people's friendship only goes so far, and it's really, really hard to be cheerful all the time. Personally, I think that you should hear something from students, administrators, and official websites before you believe it. Students may have too limited a perspective, may have gotten burnt, and so on. Administrators are probably cheerleaders who will be reluctant to say anything negative about their school. Official websites aren't bad but they sometimes don't answer specific questions. So, you listen to students to get an idea of what you need to know. You go to websites to get official information. Finally, when you talk to administrators, always frame your questions so that they must be answered with a "yes" or "no" The administrators should only confirm or deny and that's about it. There's a term in law called "due diligence." It means that you only have yourself to blame if you accept bad advice. I really don't think that people in medical school (i.e., students, instructors, administrators and so on) are evil. They're human and they screw up a lot. Unfortunately, you may be the unfortunate victim of their mistakes.

    Second, studying. Remember, there are no guarantees in medical school. None. Well, actually, the only absolute is that you'll have to pay back student loans. How you study depends on what you already know. If you have a phenomenal background in basic sciences and are great at testing, then studying probably isn't a big priority. On the other hand, these people may be irritating because everything seems so easy for them. Solution: try to get them as a tutor. However, if you're weak in basic sciences and great at testing, then you should spend all your time in learning versus testing yourself. Learning occurs through lecture, powerpoints, video/audio presentations (pirated or legit), student presentations, required books, recommended books, standard review books (e.g., BRS), and from friends. There is no one formula that works for everyone. However, the real limitation is time. Time management is a key skill in medical school but especially in learning the basic sciences. So, I would toss anything that is going to take you too long to go through it. You've got to learn and learn fast. But you can also fail and fail fast. Your first semester may be the hardest because you're trying out so many new things. It's easy to fail the first semester.

    Third, time management. For the first semester, act as if your life depended on it. Why? It's easy to get slow down when you are really being successful. But it's not so easy when you're failing and are trying to push up your grades. The weaker your background, the more guarded you have to be about your time.

    Fourth, testing. Medical school is all about testing. I think that a person will go through 30 exams, some comprehensive, some national boards, and some content specific exams until they match into a residency. Many of those tests can determine whether you'll match or not. Remember, bad, funky, unreal tests are a fact of life. It's okay to complain about them, but that won't change your test scores.

    Fifth, be nice. I've noticed that forums are filled with angry people. I suppose that anger is healthy but it does seem like the level of hostility is pretty amazing. Whatever happens here may predict what happens when your patients frustrate you. Better to learn niceness now. . .

    Sixth, information about rotations/residencies. The reality is that rotations and residencies are always in short supply. Personally, I think that the goal of a rotation is to learn enough to get into a residency. So, personally, I think that the "quality" of rotation depends a lot on what you make it. Besides in a couple rotations, you'll be studying for the Step 2 exams. That'll make those rotations a time to study versus a time to get into an intense learning experience. Remember, getting high scores on the Step 2 exams is pretty important (depending on your specialty).

    Seventh, finally, never assume fairness is guaranteed. For your own sanity, don't worry about fairness. If it happens, that's great; if not, oh well, get on with life. The goal is to become a licensed physician and there will be lots and lots and lots of unfairness.

    As my spouse goes further in rotations and residency, I'll be able to share more observations. But I won't be a cheerleader or a bitter critic or someone doing comparison shopping. I can only talk about my spouse's experience at AUSOM.

    Hope that this helps.

  2. #2
    Chi1 is offline Newbie 510 points
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    thank you so much for the insights. more posts please.

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