Find time to be humbled by what you’re learning. Every week. When you can’t memorize any more drugs and you want to quit, call your family and thank them for helping you get to where you are.
Be open to making friends outside of medical school, so you can talk about something that’s not med school. There’s a big world outside of the College of Medicine. Eat at Main Street Café instead of Harvest. Don’t leave your old lunches in the fridge in the lounge. It’s bad karma. Build relationships with your professors. And befriend your TA’s, or at least the ones you like. It’s a great way to make some vertical connections in the school.
Handwrite a thank you notes to the people that go out their way for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a significant way to make COM a better place over your four years and execute on it. Fall in love. Don’t forget your PCR reflections. Stop and talk to Mike. Skip class when the snow is great to get first tracks. Sign up for the marathon, even if just for a leg. Learn to suture. Shadow physicians every month in the spring.
Learn to go with the flow. Potlucks over parties. Your classmates will be your colleagues for the rest of your life, so act accordingly. When you ask a classmate, “How are you?”, stop and listen. Really, listen. Find a cheaper place to live near school and spend your money on good food for home-cooked meals. Make a dinner club and cook for each other every week.
Go see someone at campus mental health resources. The office is called Counseling and Psychiatry Services, CAPS. Put a “Step1” note in your OneNote when professors tell you something’s high-yield. Be active with friends — you’ll get to the gym, trails, and mountains way more often. Climb the stairs during breaks between classes. Borrow a classmate’s dog for a walk. Do yoga. Whatever you do, don’t get addicted to the candy jar in the Office of Medical Education. And look forward to Fresh Fridays.
Be someone who helps struggling classmates in histology, or anatomy, or in anything really. You’ll feel like you can’t afford to take the time, but you’ll regret it if you don’t. Remember that your PCR preceptors are your advisors, and you can use them for recommendations and advice and things as simple as getting a doctor’s appointment if everyone’s booked six months out.
Go to the Convocation of Thanks for your donors and their families in the spring. Remind each other that going into medicine is privilege, and that tons of people would take your slot if they could. And no matter how frustrated or tired and anxious you feel, in the words of two of our favorite classmates, just keep swimming. It all works out.
Welcome home. It doesn’t feel like it yet, but you’ll be surprised how soon it does.
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