My Advice To Incoming MS1s

A friend of mine in the JAMP program recently got accepted to UT Southwestern and will be matriculating there this fall. We had a great chat in which he admitted his anxiety and sought any advice I had to offer. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to share my singular pearl of wisdom, so here it is.

Remember what got you here.

It’s a piece of advice I was given myself in the first week at Baylor Med, and in retrospect, it’s the main reason I’m still smiling today. 🙂 The med school environment plunges you into an arena of incredible minds. Your upperclassmen colleagues will serve as great mentors. Your curriculum and professors will empower you to digest the wealth of information that is human biology. But no one can teach you how to be happy.

Fortunately, you intuitively know how to be happy. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What interests outside of medicine do you pursue regularly? Maybe reading fiction or playing an instrument? Obviously some things (like traveling out of the country) may be infeasible given the curriculum, but everyone has an array of interests consisting of at least one hobby which can be carried through the duration of medical school.

Take me for example. I enjoy following the public market. I love assembling computers, creating algorithms, and streamlining efficiency. I like watching and playing basketball. I play “one-too-many” video games on a daily basis. In the face of all these “distractions”, how do I manage to keep up with my studies? Well, because they’re not distractions to begin with. They’re a vital part to keeping me motivated and happy.

Many are quick to say that incoming students should budget their time appropriately by setting side ‘x’ hours for studying and ‘y’ hours for leisure each day. I really don’t think people are designed to work that way, and the medical school curriculum requires a much more dynamic allocation of time. Some topics you’ll grasp the first time through while others you may find more challenging. Whatever the case, if you feel like doing something else, DO IT (within reason)! It’s about remembering what got you this far in life and realizing that it will also get you through medical school.

By the way, I’m not responsible if you fail. I would just feel really, really bad. 😛

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