Yuliya Zekster at the Ceremony of Thanks.
Imagining life as a first-year medical student (MS1) can be terrifying and exciting at the same time. You're living your dream of becoming a physician, but you also wonder how to manage the "fire hydrant flow" of information you need to master in a few fleeting years.
Yuliya Zekster, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA class of 2018, recalls her experience as an MS1.
Coursework and studying
Much of MS1 life revolves around independent study, with morning classes or peer-based learning sessions and afternoon lab activities.
According to Zekster, most students dedicate about four evening hours to studying and reviewing the day’s lectures. She says the weekends provide plenty of catch-up time if one day simply isn’t enough to cover all the class material. Naturally, some medical school days will be busier than others.
Zekster says MS1s can always find time to enjoy activities outside of studying and classes.
"Even though you're in class all the time, you still get to take part in the LA lifestyle," Yuliya says. "Everyone here is really active and finds a way to be balanced between the amount of time they spend in classes and the amount of time they spend enjoying their hobbies."
Zekster and her classmates always found ways to keep themselves refreshed before and after sessions of coursework by working out, doing research, volunteering, or even singing in the school's own a capella group.
Efficient study habits
Zekster says most MS1s pick up study habits that work for them.
"Be realistic with your abilities and time management," she advises. "Getting used to medical school takes some time, but you eventually learn how to get better and better at studying efficiently. When you start, you think that you have to memorize absolutely everything, but that's not the case. As the year goes on, you get better and better at teasing out the important information; you realize how to recognize what is clinically important and what isn't."
Zekster’s favorite part about DGSOM was student closeness. She says a lot of MS1s live in graduate housing. "It's really a win-win situation; we all live close to campus and we all live close to each other, so it makes getting to hang out with your classmates really easy — even if that just means spending the time walking to or from classes together."
By Carolyn Mau