The nature and amount of material covered as an MS2 may be more challenging, but it's often a student's strategies for success in medical school overall that determine whether or not he or she becomes an MD.
Fortunately, Nina Vyas, class of 2016 in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, found time during her clinical years to reflect on her progression through the first year.
You won't understand everything
According to Vyas, one of the most important things for MS1s to remember is that they don't need to know everything. In fact, they can't know everything if they expect to master the material in front of them. "In undergrad," she recalls, "there was typically a finite amount of information you needed to know to do well on the exam. In medical school, however, the lectures will guide your learning but there is an infinite amount of information [that can show up on your next test]. This means it is near impossible to know everything before entering an exam."
You will surprise yourself
Nevertheless, Vyas found that although she was unable to learn everything, she knew far more than she realized upon entering her clinical years. "I am at the end of my clinical rotations and I feel as though I can comfortably assess a patient, obtain his [or] her history, do a complete physical examination and generate an appropriate plan," she states. "Even more surprising is when we medical students suggest a certain medication or diagnostic study, and our attendings agree with us!"
The pancake analogy
With respect to her first year, Vyas has come to think of study strategies in terms of a "pancake analogy" someone shared with her when she began at DGSOM. "I was once told to compare studying for medical school to eating one pancake every day. If you put off eating your pancake Monday – Friday, you will have seven pancakes to eat on the weekend," she explains. "This is bound to end in a stomach ache and possibly even food-poisoning." For students like Vyas, it ultimately leads to anxiety, stress and compromising on time spent with loved ones on the weekend.
"Instead," she suggests, "it is much easier to study a little bit every day and stay on top of the material. Of course there are days where you won't have time to study, but if taken into account, it is easy to make up ... and those pancakes will get a lot easier to keep down."
Lastly, she advises students who are still shaping their strategies for success in medical school to take advantage of as many peripheral endeavors as they can while still keeping their lives balanced. "Entering medical school is just step one toward getting your MD; there are still so many more steps to becoming a successful physician," she says. "If you don't say 'yes,' especially during your first year, you may miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities offered to you."
By Carolyn Mau