4 Things to Know Before the First Day of Medical School


Medical school is a completely different animal than college. You’re jumping into a new world and learning a new language. Here are four things you need to know before starting your first day of medical school. What’s going on guys? Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. First, study habits need to be perfected. Even if you were a top student in college, like I was, your study habits will more than likely need tweaking, like mine did. Trust me, I’ve been there. From active versus passive learning, to time management, focus tricks, study planning, and more, learning the material in medical school is unlike anything you’ve ever done in college. It’s crucial to understand your personal study style – what works for one person may not work for another. Are you a visual or auditory learner? A morning person or night owl? How is your focus after meditation or working out? Are your most effective studying at a coffee shop, the library, or at home? Luckily, you can find free blog posts and videos at Med School Insiders that will get you well on your way to studying more effectively and efficiently. That means better grades with less time studying. Talk about a win-win. If you want to really take your studying to the next level, our tutors and doctor advisors at MedSchoolInsiders.com can guide you better than anyone. Number two, you will doubt yourself. Your self-confidence will come into question. Imposter syndrome is not uncommon. “What am I doing here? Do I really belong? Am I good enough?” This tends to come up particularly for students who are not performing optimally in their first or second years of medical school. Remind yourself of the reasons you went into medicine and are becoming a doctor. Have compassion for yourself – after all, no one is perfect, and we are all bound to make mistakes and struggle at some point. The key is rather to stay resilient and even become antifragile. How will you address your struggles? Will you be proactive and actively create a solution, or passively feel sorry for yourself? Reach out for support, critically assess and be honest about what is and what is not working, and make the necessary adjustments. A struggling first year medical student recently reached out to me. He was struggling with depression and his course was work suffering, but he managed to completely turn things around. He wanted to give back and help others who may be in a similar situation, so he wrote a blog post chronicling his struggle and victory. It’s actually quite inspiring. You can find a like down in the description. Now, everyone is dealt a bad hand at some point. It’s not the cards, but rather how you play your hand thats the secret. Number three, professionalism and hierarchy of Medicine At each stage in your education, you’ve started from the bottom and slowly worked your way up to the top. In high school, you started as a freshman and by the time you were a senior, you felt like you ran the place. Similarly in college, freshman year was a significant adjustment, but by the time senior year came around, things were smooth sailing. Medical school is similar, but I would argue even more pronounced. You’ll again be at the bottom of the hierarchy. It goes attending physicians, then fellows, then residents, then medical students. For better or worse, medicine is a very tradition-bound profession and hierarchy is closely adhered to in teaching hospitals. Know your role and excel at it before moving to the next phase, and don’t get ahead of yourself. What I mean is to be sure to respect the hospital staff and to your colleagues. I have too frequently seen overzealous and arrogant medical students disrespect the nursing staff or other healthcare workers. Not only is this is an ineffective way of carrying oneself, but those nurses will make your life a nightmare. You’ll realize that residents and medical students who are respectful of their peers, and more importantly the nurses, physicians, and other hospital staff, tend to fare better than those who don’t. This holds true for life in general, but even more so in medicine Again, you’re in a traditional hierarchal profession, where those above you will control several aspects of your training. So be respectful. And number four, you will change your mind about your specialty – constantly. There are a few people that just know. I thought I was one of them, thinking I was gonna be a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. Fast forward four years and I matched into plastic surgery. You can learn my story of how I went from GI to plastics on my vlog channel. Now in choosing your specialty, it’s totally fine to change your mind or to not even have a clue. That being said, the only way to truly determine if a specialty is a good fit for you is by spending time in that setting. Read about it, speak with others, but more importantly, get hands-on experience in the form of shadowing, clinical research, and appropriate selection of your third-year clerkships and electives. For those of you just starting, remember that you most likely won’t know your specialty until you do your clinical rotations. And if you think you do already know your specialty, be prepared to change your mind. A lot. Get exposure where possible, but in the meantime, prioritize your MCAT, getting stellar grades, becoming a competitive applicant, and matriculating to medical school. Let me know down in the comments what you are most concerned or apprehensive about regarding medical school. For those of you who are already in medical school, what do you wish you knew on day one? Special thanks to my Patreon supporters that help make videos like this possible. If you want to vote on upcoming videos, get exclusive commentary, get a t-shirt or have a video chat with me, visit our Patreon page. Thank you all so much for watching. If you liked the video, make sure you press that like button. Hit subscribe if you have not already and I will see you guys in that next one.

93 thoughts on “4 Things to Know Before the First Day of Medical School

  1. I am really concerned about my shadowing hours i only have a few and i am planning to apply next year :/
    Thanks for the video though :)!

  2. Love your videos. Make a video on how to become Competitive applicant when to apply for med school?

  3. I always get concerned about where I stand in comparison to others. I know I should not do this to myself as a means of trying to fit in, but I want to know where I stand in my road to get matriculated into medical school. I am a Biomedical Engineering Major Pre-Med who just finished his first year of College and I am taking summer classes to get some classes out of the way since BMEN Pre-Med is very crammed in 4 years. In terms of grades, I manage them well with around a 3.76 GPA and I am starting to study for my MCAT. I also collected nearly 200 hours of shadowing a Cardiologist and I am starting to do Vascular Research on Atherosclerosis. Of course, as for Volunteering I only really have about 13 hours of Hospice Volunteering. I know there are brilliant people in my level that are trying to get in, of course, my concern is whether I am ahead or behind from these competitive applicants.

  4. I don’t even have the “college experience” to compare to med school because I’m starting med school in another country coming from A levels. I’m nervous as hell to start 😞

  5. Hey Kevin! Thanks so much for your videos. They helped me get accepted this cycle after I failed to get in 2 cycles ago 🙂 Do you have anything to say about being in a relationship prior to medical school? My partner of a few years is moving with me. I would appreciate any advice in regards to keeping the relationship healthy, managing/communicating expectations, etc.! Thanks!

  6. I saw tat you uploaded this video, and I was like: 😭 too late hahaha I'm already in second year of medschool! I'm watching it anyways

  7. You should do a video about PA school vs Medical school, or even pros and cons of both. I’ve been thinking of applying for PA school, but I don’t know if it’s right for me. Anyway, great video!

  8. I love all of your videos. I love to become a doctor but im planning to be a PA in a future, can you show me the different between PA and Physician?

  9. I’m going to apply to the school of radiation sciences for fall 2019. My main focus for the 2018-2019 year is to lock in on my studies and raising my gpa.

  10. Thanks Dr J! Great vid. I will be starting my first year of medical school this year and honestly, I'm already a bit nervous about the matching process. I worked as a scribe and during my last few months I met at least 3 different scribes that had gone to medical school but didn't match and are kind of in this limbo trying to figure things out (and some of them went to MD programs in the US). I already know I'll be looking into ways to prevent this as soon as I get on campus, but if you could make a video about the matching process that would be much appreciated 🙂 (If you already made a video like this, kindly direct me to it. Thanks!)

  11. Hi Dr. J! I have a question about programs offered at some undergrad institutions that offer acceptance to undergrads to their med schools upon completion of their degree. For example, at Boston University, they offer the MMEDIC program where if you get accepted, you will be guaranteed a spot at their medical school. What are the pros and cons of applying/accepting for such an offer?

  12. Im from Brazil, and here is quite different than US, its a graduation called medicine. Im in the second year in my graduation in medicine

  13. Needed this! I start in a couple more months. Do you have any additional tips for first year? Thanks again!

  14. Can you do a video on planning your life in med school? Like all aspects? Money, studying, research, time, etc. Basically how to get all of this in order so you have more time to study and focus on being a competitive student. I'm going through this in undergrad since I have work, school, clubs, and volunteering. I can't seem to find the balance where I can do them all well at the same time. Something is always lacking and I hate that it's mostly school

  15. Concerned about managing study demands as a single mom of twins. I've been successful up to this point, I think I'm just psyching myself out!

  16. Hi, as a suggestion, you should consider a video on study drugs: ie. adderall, vyvanse, et cetera… Sounds interesting.

  17. Thank you for this video. I am worried about the exhaustion, and the toll studying medicine will have on me. I am also worried about being able to finance medical school. This is why I considered being a Physician Assistant instead.

  18. How much experience in Shadowing, Leadership, and Clinical Research do I need to become a Medical Student?

  19. Hi Dr. Jubbal. Could you please tell me about how many anki cards you made and reviewed per day? Thanks.

  20. I am most concerned with balancing school with everything else (especially my wife and her needs). Great video. I need to take the time to figure out my optimal study habits.

  21. I did extremely well in undergrad by reading my textbooks everyday. Will this strategy work in medical school? What role does the textbook play at that level?

  22. I'm 27 yrs old and I have lived in the U.S for almost 3 years. I'm kinda new at English. Still get difficulty in listening and speaking, but I can read. I want to become a PA or even a doctor. I always doubt myself. First thing first, I need to hospital volunteer or shadowing, but will they accept a person who's still not good at communication. I'm so stressful right now.

  23. So Kevin my med school start at about 1st 2018 and I have a lot of free time do you think studying the courses now would be help to me or should I wait instill med school starts for studying.
    P. S. Really cool video!

  24. I'm enrolling in med school next year and hearing all this stuff right now is already scaring the hell out of me. But I know why I'm here and why I'm doing this and that's enough motivation.

  25. I am from South Africa so obtaining a medical degree is slightly different.
    Sometimes I put pressure on myself thinking I an not as smart as the other kids. All because matrics must get top marks into university. And I keep asking myself "Will I be good enough?".

    Can you help?

  26. Im just trying to pass Orgo. I work in a OR, so I have alot of shawdoing and clincial exposure. Chemistry was also a struggle for me

  27. How much time do u think is required to study for MCAT exam from scratch(having no idea of the subjects of MCAT exam)

  28. Hey! Love your videos! Here is what I am concerned about:

    I am a current Senior at CU Boulder seeking to apply to medical school a year after graduation.
    I have not taken the MCAT and am unsure as to when how to start the process.
    I do not have the greatest GPA. Currently I'm majoring in molecular biology with a 3.3 GPA.
    This grade point average is not "great," but my grades have continuously improved every year.
    I did not take my first few years of university seriously and thus fell behind and received terrible grades.
    Overall, I am concerned my grades do not make me a competitive applicant. I feel this will be the main reason I may be rejected from medical school. While I have done research, currently work in a lab, regularly shadow surgeons, and keep up with my extracurriculars, I fear that I do not have a chance to make it into medical school.

    I would appreciate any advice on what to do and where to go. Please answer!

  29. Hey, I am a high school student and honestly I don’t know how to study but I manage like 98’s in my sciences and 80’s in my humanities but I need to learn how to actually study because I can’t sit down for long periods and just look at notes, I need to be taking tests or having a teacher teach me to know something

  30. I’m very blessed and won a scholarship that puts me straight through undergrad and med school so I don’t have to spend time stressing about trying to get into medical school itself. So I would say my greatest concern about medical school is the self confidence thing you talked about and I’m scared in not being a good doctor like I’ve always dreamed

  31. can I make it through med school as an "ok" student? I'm a Bsn nurse with an 85+ average (not in the USA at the moment), do you think its enough for getting through the 4 years?

  32. Starting medschool this August! I’m big on your second point; I’m nervous and excited to start, but sometimes I’m doubting myself and I keep worrying if I’ll do well 🙁 Good video! Very insightful for incoming first years.

  33. I am a bit worried about dealing with the cadaver lab. I’m going into high school, and have taken an interest in Neurology, but the whole situation of surgeries and squeamishness worries me

  34. i really wanna be a doctor. i am so scared of failing, being wrong , mistakes, studying, and self esteem. i really have bad self esteem.

  35. I'm just afraid I won't be able to score a high enough GPA/MCAT score and set myself apart enough to even make it in.

  36. I'm starting med school this year. I am so nervous, because despite working hard for the application, I did not quite have a regular schedule, I procrastinanted, I was distracted. And now I am watching these type of videos in order to improve Better habits. Though, I m still nervous, yet a little bit excited. I chose this path because I could not see myself interested în any other field, despite not being a top student. Plus, I have always felt that is my duty to improve people s lifes and Work in a hospital. Hospitals don t scare me, they rather intrigue me. My goal for the first year is to find this balance : study, workout and a social life.

  37. I'm 12 and I feel as if it is destiny for my to be a doctor I always wanted to be one and I will one day 😊 thx for the help.

  38. Hi there huge fan of your vlog and Med School Insiders. What app or software do you use for these animated med school insiders videos?

  39. I’m 15 and Scottish so I don’t know why I’m watching an American med channel but I wanna be a psychiatrist so badly, I’m just afraid the work at med school will get on top of me😅

  40. What do you need to know before hand like if you're still in middle school and going to start highschool how do you make yourself ready for med school during highschool and college

  41. Im planning to go in med school this year or next but Im afraid that alot of my grades are a bit low. Really hoping I could make it

  42. I'm in high school….and I want to be an orthopedic surgeon…..Don't know if that will change but I like that side of surgery right now.

  43. Hey.I am 16 but I am interested in medicine.I can't find myself in other majors.I hope my decision is true .But I am a little bit afraid and worried.Thank you for this video .waiting for more videos doctor❤️.

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