Avoiding First-Year Medical Student Mistakes

The first year of medical school is often the most difficult. Not only will you need to shift focus to your specialized field from what you studied in your undergraduate years but you’ll also have a lot more information thrown at you. There are many mistakes that you, as a first-year student, can fall prey to and it might take the rest of your time in medical school to get back on track. However, the following tips are designed to help you succeed throughout the rest of your medical school career by avoiding the common errors that students make.

What Mistakes to Avoid as a First-Year Medical Student

  1. Don’t try to work somewhere that has nothing to do with your career path. The biggest mistake that a first-year student will make is seeing their loan debts rise and trying to get a job to decrease that debt. While volunteering or working at a hospital is a good move for your residency applications, getting a job that has nothing to do with medicine/biology will only seek to lower your GPA, time, and sanity. Most doctors are able to casually pay off their student loans anyway. Try not to stress out.
  2. While medical school is a new and often alienating experience, it’s important to build relationships for support. Even if you don’t know anyone and you’re more of a lone-wolf, you should try to create a group of fellow first-year medical students, professors, and advisors to help you whenever you don’t understand something. Never try to go it alone in medical school.
  3. Avoid choosing a specialty/practice area your first year. All your friends and family will ask you what kind of doctor you want to be when you graduate. Most first-year students don’t know because they haven’t been exposed long enough. Don’t feel pressured to choose something just because people are constantly asking or your fellow students have chosen something for themselves. You will learn what fits best in time.
  4. A good attitude goes a long way in helping you succeed in medical school. Know the chain of command and show enthusiasm for your studies. The worst thing you can do as a first-year medical student is alienate yourself from professors and show disrespect/disregard for your studies. Word can travel fast in a medical school setting and you don’t want to anger the people that will help you transition to residency. You should also develop skills for following direction as a first-year medical student. You will soon move into an environment where you have to work as a team so be prepared.

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