The Secret to Medical School

Congratulations. For some of you, getting accepted to medical school was a pipe dream; for some of you, it was something that you had to apply multiple times for; for some of you, it was something you always planned on doing and you got accepted on the first time with relative ease. Regardless, you are all here and that is my point. The slate is clean.  You are all on a level playing field and all can achieve the same great things if you commit to it.

With that being said, you are about to embark on a four-year journey that will be frustrating at times, yet unbelievably rewarding as well. Everybody that starts medical school, in one way or another, is an incredibly motivated person that wants to succeed in every aspect of their life. Each brand new medical student is looking for the ever-elusive “Secret.” In other words, what is the one thing that I need to know in order to succeed in medical school? What is the one thing that will put me above my classmates and allow me to not only survive but to thrive in medical school?

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The Secret isn’t about lectures or First Aid or studying for Step 1 or about managing exercise and studying or anything like that. It’s much simpler and I can’t force you to accept it. I can only tell you that this was the most important thing for me and for many of my friends. I won’t sugar coat it and I won’t tell you that everyone agrees with it. But I believe whole-heartedly that this is the single most important thing to know. Here it is:

Medical school itself is not hard but the people in your class can make it hard.

There it is. Think about it for a second and think about what it means. What I am telling each and every one of you is that you already have proven that you have the intelligence, work ethic, and desire to not only get accepted into medical school, but to graduate medical school with flying colors. You have taken the MCAT, done community service, participated in research, sacrificed, served others, and most importantly, passed organic chemistry. The thing preventing you from doing well in medical school has NOTHING to do with how smart you are. Sure, it will be hard at times, but so what? College was hard too and you got this far.

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My point is that people in medical school are the classic type A personalities, even the medical student that says “I’m type B” is still type A compared to the general public. This means that we have a tendency to talk about how much we study, how well we do on tests, how much community service we do, and how much research we do. This commentary can really weigh on you and make you think that you aren’t doing enough. It can add this unbearable stress to your daily life and it is this very stress that will make medical school hard.

“Medical school itself is not hard but the people in your class can make it hard.”

Dr. Jamal Egbaria, Contributor, Med Student Edge

You’re probably thinking, “okay Jamal avoiding that stress is a lot easier said than done, how do I actually do it?” This is how: surround yourself with a tight group of friends that understand the ever-elusive Secret. Friends that understand that we all have our own ways of studying and own ways of getting our work done and that we don’t always have to talk about it. It may take a few weeks or months to find that group of friends, but once you do, you will realize that medical school becomes a lot easier. You will need this group of friends to talk to about the difficulty of the tests you are taking or about how overwhelmed you are with the workload or about how unfair question 9 on that micro quiz was. These friends will become your de-stresser, your outlet to resetting your mind and allowing yourself to attack classwork with renewed confidence. When you are secure in that friend group and you are secure in the fact that you know what it takes for you to succeed, then the journey is much smoother.

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To make a long story short, don’t buy into the hype from some of your classmates that medical school is so unbelievably difficult. You have what it takes to dominate medical school, just stick to the study habits that work well for you and don’t allow the noise around you to distract you from your goals. Remember, medical school itself is not hard, but the people in your class can make it hard.

Do you have a “Secret” to success in medical school? Share your thoughts below.

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