Tips for the First Year of Medical School

September 2, 2016

My first year of medical school ended in June, but somehow this is the first real time I've had to sit down and reflect back on it.

My first year of medical school was wild. 

It was everything I expected it to be - a crazy adjustment, challenging, and a tad overwhelming. But last year also brought the unexpected loss of my grandpa and grandma. My year was full of grieving and studying. 

I became engaged, planned a wedding, and returned to Botswana the day I took my last exam. (I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana from 2012-2014). I came home, got married, went on a three week honeymoon to Thailand, and started my second year of medical school two days later. 


I can clearly remember starting medical school and looking at the second year students, wondering just how the hell they got to where they were. I remember looking up to them in AWE. How in the world are they smiling and telling me it will be ok? 

I wanted to be smiling, advising first years, and have a year of school behind me. Basically, I just wanted to survive.

And here I am, one year later. Smiling at the first years, telling them the same thing. Just the other day, a first year medical student looked at me and asked, "How did you get through the year!?". I responded as honestly as I could and said, "By showing up and taking things day by day." 

Medical school is no joke. It's hands down the most difficult thing I've ever handled. But I truly do love it (beneath all the whining and dark circles under my eyes). 

I'm happy to have a year of school in the books. I'm grateful for the knowledge I have obtained. I'm very optimistic about the idea of finally becoming a pediatrician and having my dream job. It's amazing what a year will do for perspective. I'm now just three years away from graduation! (groan...sigh... but! gasp! it's not four.) 

So, here I am, and I'd like to summarize some of the thoughts and advice I've gathered while reflecting on my challenging first year of medical school. 

Last year, M & I lived with two of our wonderful classmates. I get distracted SO easily, so I set up an office space in the basement of the house we were renting. While they teased me for studying in the dungeon, I was actually quite productive down there. Find a space that works for you to study and I think it pays off in the long run. (My new office space is now upstairs... totally different!) 

If you're one of those alien-humans who can function without sleep... I am jealous. I cannot function well with less than 7 hours of sleep, so I learned to prioritize sleep in medical school. Obviously, there were nights that I got less, but on average, I slept about 7.5 hours a night. That was the optimal amount for me to be productive the next day, so I fought to try to get those zzzz's. 

Some weeks I was better at this than others, but it truly makes a difference. Taking time to grocery shop, meal plan, make smoothies, and take vitamins/supplements is TOTALLY worth it. When I feel better, I work harder. 

Block off time to see the people you love and do the things you love. I made sure to take time to see my family and friends. I also made sure to make time to do yoga and go skiing! Whatever it is that YOU need to recharge, make time for it. 

I'm obsessed with office supplies. I love new pens, washi tape, and sticky notes. They make me excited about studying! And maybe chocolate motivates me too... :) I must admit I ate a LOT of chocolate during my first year of medical school. 

Your medical school class will be comprised of very intelligent, high functioning human beings. It can be really overwhelming. Not everyone can be the top of the class. It's so much easier said than done, but the sooner you can stop comparing yourself to your classmates, the happier you are going to be. Instead of comparing yourself, try to ask yourself what you have to offer (I promise it's more than you realize). Play off of your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Your classmates are great resources. These are your future colleagues!! 

Everyone will have different advice about how to study. You'll have your own ideas on how you want to study. Each professor/clinician will have different teaching styles. With all of those things combined, you're going to want to give yourself as much flexibility as you can. Play with ideas and study strategies. I changed my study methods quite a bit depending on the system, teacher, and personal interest. As long as you're learning the material, try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. 

I printed ALL of my notes. I hand wrote summaries. I used a lot of color. I made charts. I just did what worked for me. 

Medical school is a lot of work. It's overwhelming. It's especially tough when you're struggling with concepts or a particular system. Just try  to remember that you're never alone! Your classmates are going through all of it with you. Your faculty is there to help. Use their strengths and ask for help when you need it! 

The worst six words for a type A medical student to hear. But it's true. There is no "right" way to get through medical school. It's a process and you'll find a groove. 

This lesson was particularly tough for me to accept. I felt selfish every time I said "no" to something, but it's absolutely necessary sometimes. School has to be a priority and unfortunately, that requires some sacrifice. 

Regardless of how you might feel in the moment (or in that class), I promise you're going to look back and say, "WOW. I didn't know I had that in me." Big things happen one day at a time - and you're often going to miss how much you've grown. When I look back on my first year, I've truly surprised myself. There is still so much I don't know, but I certainly know a lot more than I did last summer. Becoming a doctor is no easy task... but you're stronger (and smarter!) than you think you are! 

The days will be sloooooooowwwww. But the year will fly by. 

I'm excited to see what another year of learning will bring... for YOU and for me! 


  1. Are those M&Ms on your notes as motivators?? lol I love it

    Way to go this year Tate! We are so proud of you!

    1. haha YES. I have to get through med school somehow... even if I have to bribe myself with chocolate place holders :)

      I love you guys!

  2. I have a hard time describing my thoughts on content, but I really felt I should here. Your article is really great. I like the way you wrote this information.
    Hbse result 2018

  3. New web site is looking good. Thanks for the great effort. Cialis 20mg

  4. There are a few people that need a healing facility bed for just a brief timeframe, and the rentals of these pieces spare those people an extensive entirety of cash.

  5. In the event that you additionally lie in a similar class at that point no compelling reason to stress any more since now there are different online stores accessible through which you can buy your medicines.

  6. If a particular device needs to be repaired or tends to break infrequently at very frequent health screenings, he will not provide the best service the doctor will buy it.

  7. The business has seen sound development rates before and except if Canada feels free to directs it, this pattern is relied upon to proceed in any event for a long time to come.

  8. The post gives the light in which we can observe the reality of Mesenchymal Stem Cells. This is a very clear writing and gives in-depth information about Mesenchymal Stem Cells through easy to understandable text. Thank you so much for your excellent efforts.

  9. So we should know about the intensity of recuperating that gets through the elective medicine or health items with natural fixings. In spite of the fact that these normal herbs can help fix sicknesses, eventually, it is GOD who has the last say. PhenQ Amazon

  10. subsequently are putting their health, and in the long run their lives in danger" Crawford refers to models of Internet drug stores providing drugs that were under quality, polluted and mislabeled (Crawford 2004).
    comprare viagra senza ricetta

  11. As per Johnson (2005) this is because of buyers ending up extremely disappointed with regards to managing both physical drug stores and restorative pills

  12. The system, while accepting amazing consideration, allows the individuals from health protection to profit by their arranged rebate rates.
    Healthpally surgeons

  13. On the off chance that they are licensed, you may likewise fit the bill for money related guide allows and advances. anavar oral

  14. When using an online pharmacy supply you will usually be able to shop for almost all of your typical pharmacy items you are familiar with including both prescription and non prescription items such as vitamins, or diabetic supplies. testosterone propionate for sale online usa

  15. There is definitely a lot to learn about First Year of Medical School like a self driven learning phase that can be comparable with the intolerance tests.

    I really like all of the points you've made.


Latest Instagrams

© Tate Does Things. Design by FCD.