Tips for New and Incoming Medical Students (2)
Work as Part of a Team
Remember that healthcare professionals are a team. Nurses, techs and doctors all work together. Be humble and never bad-mouth anyone. Hospital communities can be small, word gets around. Love the nurses, they might save you from a difficult situation and help you out. They can clue you in to important patient information and fill in any blanks left by a busy resident. Treat them poorly and you might make your life very difficult!
Stick Your Nose In!
Poke around a bit. Make friends with faculty and ask them when you need help. Keep your eyes out for an interesting research study. You might be able to get involved in some long term studies and could even get published.
You worked very hard to get there. Even if you hate it, show enthusiasm.
Be Confident & Assertive
Ask questions, don’t be afraid. Ask lots, ask often. What is that saying, “the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask”. Often staff are more forgiving with medical students ‘silly questions’ than those residents, use this to your benefit and ask now! Don’t think you’ll just look it up when you get home. Many doctors love to teach and are passionate about their specialty.
Answer questions with confidence, sounding uncertain even if you are right can make you seem ‘less smart’. If you don’t know the answer, guess, but guess assertively. You can never be more wrong, but you can always be less right. It’s better to confidently say “the pyloric sphincter!” than “um, the uh, pyloric sphincter?” If you don’t know, say that you don’t know but you’d like to learn.
You will never know it all. Might as well be confident about what you do know, even if you’re not positively sure it’s right.
Ask to do procedures, be persistent, that might be the only time you get to do it before residency. Even if you are told that Dr. X likes to do that, keep asking, read up about the procedure and one day you’ll get to do it. Have the resident walk you through. The ‘quieter’ students who stand in the corner often miss out on many learning opportunities.
Feeling Overwhelmed is Normal
Sometimes training is completely overwhelming. Virtually everyone will feel overwhelmed at some stage.
Enjoy the Simple Pleasures
Find one thing, however small, that you can still do each day. Relish and enjoy it. It might be a cup of coffee or reading the paper, whatever makes you feel relaxed and like yourself.
Join organizations, get involved, get to know people. Keep up your extra-curriculars, residency applications will be right around the corner. Keep a running list of all your extra activities, comes in very handy at application time.
You Can and Will Have a Life
You will adjust to the workload and you will have a life. It won’t be all study, study, study. Most of all, have FUN.
You Can Do It
Remember you are smart, you do deserve to be there, you will make it through and you will be a doctor. Perseverance and perspective are key.