Don’t Make These 7 Freshman Mistakes in Medical School

Going to medical school to start a new life as a college freshman can be an incredibly exciting and memorable experience in a person’s life. You’ll meet new people, and you’ll be exploring more ideas. Unfortunately, as new students try to get their footing, they are likely to make a few mistakes along the way.

Medical school is often fraught with mistakes that cause stress, physical and mental problems, and poor academic performance. We’ve compiled the seven mistakes you don’t want to make as a medical student.

1. Skipping Class

At one point or another, every medical student wonders if maybe they can skip a class or two. However, skipping classes in medical school can be tricky. Sometimes, staying in bed feels like a better experience than getting up and attending a class. It’s just so easy to turn off your alarm and continue sleeping.

As long as you don’t make it a habit, you can take some time off. However, the reality is that missing classes only adds more stress than giving you a stress-free day to yourself. At the same time, you never know how far the information gained from a particular class will improve your grades. If depression and anxiety are preventing you from going to class, please consider getting some help.

2. Cramming

It’s that time of year again. You force yourself to study, but nothing seems to be sticking in your brain. That’s when you decide to indulge in cramming, which, as it turns out, is the entirely wrong way to study.

Burning the midnight oil and cramming for a test seems to be a rite of passage in medical school. However, cramming isn’t a good method for studying for an exam. That’s because cramming doesn’t provide long-term learning. Additionally, it doesn’t allow your brain to consolidate information into meaningful patterns. Cramming can also add to a student’s stress levels.

The solution is to find a method of studying that works for you. For instance, assume you’re preparing for the USMLE Step 1 Exam. Instead of cramming, you can enroll for USMLE preparation online courses. The courses will help you understand medical concepts better because they apply spaced repetitions and gamification to increase memory recall. Just make sure you start early enough to get through all the material!

3. Neglecting Self-care

Self-care is a way to ameliorate the stress that comes with a medical school. It’s essential for everyone, and that is especially true for medical students who are living through stressful times. Often, you may find yourself neglecting your own needs. Because self-care and academic progress are connected, neglecting one can harm the other.

Therefore, it’s vital that you practice good habits that positively contribute to your mental and physical health. Additionally, practicing self-care in college leads to better studying habits. You can choose one self-care aspect each day to focus on. For instance, you can get away for some alone time or take a mindful walk around campus.

4. Taking On Too Much

As medical students settle into their new courses, the question of what they should do after school often preoccupies their minds. The options for after-school activities are endless: sports, dance, and gymnastics. The students hope that such activities will benefit them in both the short-term and longer-term.

However, a busy activity schedule can potentially harm your academic development and well-being. This may show up in the form of fatigue, sleeplessness, and slipping grades. It’s important to make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time for homework and study time. Don’t automatically look to add more stuff to your resume.

Therefore, finding the right balance is key to your overall health and happiness. Start by making sure your day includes enough time for the essential activities. Instead of jumping around from activity to activity, you should dedicate your time to one particular activity.

5. Focusing Too Heavily On One Area

Many medical students are under the impression that it’s all about grades. Medical school should do more than prepare you for later employment—it should prepare you for later life. Consequently, quitting a couple of clubs or sports teams is not a great idea. To impress potential employers, you need to be well-rounded. That’s because this demonstrates your ability to be balanced.

6. Not Having a Wide Network in College

A commonly under-valued part of the medical college experience is the opportunity to build networks. For many college students, the college experience is mostly about academics. Some medical students think “networking” is for people who’ve already graduated. Others simply aren’t confident enough to enact a networking strategy.

Networking begins the moment a medical student walks onto the campus. The concept is to plant the seeds before you need to harvest them. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Join a club or organization
  • Join a fraternity
  • Play a sport
  • Meet people in the class that have the same major
  • Go to campus events

The connections you make in college will be instrumental in your post-grad life. In fact, a recent report claims 85% of all jobs are found through networking.

7. Not Enjoying Yourself in College

Between balancing academics and social life, “having fun” tends to fall by the wayside. At the same time, medical students get plenty of advice from their parents about what not to do in college. Take time to hang out with your friends and make memories. There’re so many things you’ll experience in college.

Medical college can be an exciting time full of wonderful new experiences. Use these tips to make your stay there as worthwhile as it possibly can be.


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