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Top five things you need to know before medical school


IU School of Medicine Students at the White Coat Ceremony in 2016.

So, you’ve gotten into medical school. What’s next? You might be excited about the iconic White Coat Ceremony or uncertain about the rigors of your coursework to come. While navigating your way through medical school may be tough, you’ve got everything you need to be successful!

Our alumni have many helpful pearls of wisdom to guide you on your journey through medical school. But if you’re looking for some advice from students who were in your position just a few years ago, here are the top five things the Class of 2018 wants you to know before you start medical school.

1. You can do this.

At the beginning of your medical school journey (and continuously throughout) you might find yourself wondering if you’ve got what it takes.

You do.

But you don’t have to do it alone! IU School of Medicine’s alumni, faculty, staff and students are rooting for you. We’ll celebrate when you put on your first white coat; we’ll get butterflies when you begin your first clinical clerkship; we’ll hold our breath as you tear the seal on your Match Day envelope.

And we’ll proudly cheer as you walk across the stage at commencement.

“[Medical school] is an amazing experience. You will make new friends, you will get to do things very few people get to do and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment after every difficult test, class and year. You may not feel it at first, but you will feel more and more like a doctor every day. Med school will be over before you know it. Enjoy it.”
Josh East

2. It’s hard.

Like, really hard. But there’s no doubt that you’re smart! You’re so smart that you’re going to be a doctor one day. Still, it’s important to understand that even with your long history of acing exams and outpacing your peers, you’re going to need to put in more work than ever before.

“A lot of people coming into medical school are accustomed to being among the top students in their class. It’s okay not to be the smartest [person in medical school]. Just work hard. Also, keep a copy of your med school admission essay nearby. I say that because at times it might be easy to lose sight of what motivated you to pursue medicine. If you remember your purpose, it’ll get you through the hard times.”
– Ronit Patnaik

3. Find your balance.

Even when your next exam feels like the most important thing on your to-do list, don’t forget to take time to relax and stay involved in activities you love. Practicing self-care goes a long way in helping you manage stress and even perform better on exams!

Luckily, there are plenty of events, resources and services for relaxation and personal well-being!

“We sometimes get so focused on studying for weekly quizzes, board exams and shelf exams that it can be easy to lose sight of life around us. You still need to make time to be human and spend time with your family and friends, and especially spend time taking care of yourself.”
– Savannah Enders Kimball

4. Build a network.

While you’re in medical school, you have access to a vast network of alumni, faculty, staff and fellow students who all want to see you succeed. By making connections early, you’ll be laying the foundation for a nationwide professional network that you’ll continue to benefit from for years to come.

“My biggest advice would be to meet with mentors early. As soon as you think you have an interest in a particular specialty, meet with someone who works in that area. All the mentors I’ve met with at IU School of Medicine are so approachable and willing to help students.”
Ciersten Burks

5. Trust yourself.

During these four years, you will be faced with important decisions about the trajectory of your personal and professional future. There will be moments that you’re unsure of whether or not you are making the right choice, and you will make a few mistakes along the way. Trust yourself and move forward. At the end of your medical school journey, you will bear little regret about the choices you made.

“Looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The friends that I made, the hours studying and nights we took off to enjoy ourselves all led to a successful Match Day and incredible connections.”
Averie Tigges

For additional resources, visit the admissions page or check out the MD student portal!

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Sara Buckallew

Communications Coordinator

Sara Buckallew works in the Dean's Office of Strategic Communications. As a communications coordinator, Sara supports internal and external communication needs for the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research and the Center for Diabetes and Metabolic...