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. 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 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 campus a better place over your four years and execute it. Fall in love. Don’t forget your PCR reflections. Skip class when the snow is great to get first tracks. Sign up for a 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. Organize a dinner club and cook for each other every week.
Go see someone at campus mental health resources. Put “Step1” in your notes 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 candy jar in the Office of Medical Education. And look forward to 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.
About the authors
Left to right: Brian, Hillary, Justin
Brian Till is from Jericho, Vermont, and studied political science at Haverford College. He previously worked in foreign policy, and attended the Bryn Mawr College post-baccalaureate premedical program. He enjoys writing in his free time, and, at UVM, serves as a representative to the AAMC Organization of Student Representatives. Follow him on Twitter: @brianmtill.
Hillary Anderson is from Hinesburg, Vermont. She is a graduate of Brown University with a concentration in community health. Before starting medical school, Hillary worked at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality in Boston, MA and completed her MPH at Boston University. Since returning to Vermont, she is a student leader of UVM’s American Medical Women’s Association, Refugee Health Orientation, and Wellness Committee. Outside of medical school, Hillary enjoys volunteering with her husband at the Vermont Goat Collaborative.
Justin Genziano is from Eagle River, Alaska, and graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in music. Prior to starting medical school at the University of Vermont he taught English in Japan, and worked in health care administration in Seattle, WA. At UVM he is a member of the College of Medicine Marathon Team and serves as a member on the Wellness Committee.