You’ll likely encounter unexpected things no matter how long you have spent studying to be a medical student. The Doctor of Medicine (MD) program differs from any other higher education program.

We asked a few doctors to give us a better idea of what to expect during medical school. Here’s their advice for future doctors.


Although it is common to compile all of the necessary tasks into a shortlist while preparing for medical school, it can be difficult to truly understand what it will be like to be a med student until you are actually on campus. This physician’s insight may give you a better idea of what to expect.

1) It is important to have a well-planned and organized schedule.

Many college med students can cram for big exams or skim through weekly assignments. Medical school is not for those who cut corners. Medical students must be able to absorb large amounts of information in a short period. This is why it’s important to have good study habits and prioritize tasks.

“You have to plan in such a manner that you’re going all the way, because there’s so much to do,” Dr. Joseph Sujka (St. George’s University (SGU), a St. George’s University graduate and general surgeon resident at Orlando Regional Medical Center) says.

2) Your peers might not be able to study in the same way you do.

Every student will feel out of their element at the beginning of medical school. It can become second nature to compare yourself with others, but this can lead to you not being successful in medical school.

Recognize that you are not competing with other medical students. What works for one student might not work for the next. Finding the best learning strategies for you is key.

Dr. Sujka recalls from his time as a student that many of his peers suggested that he would do well in pathology if only he read the book and not attend lectures. He warns, “I quickly realized that was not true.” “I knew I had to attend class. “I couldn’t just read the book and forget the information.”

It can be helpful to stick with a study method that worked in the past if you are familiar with it. Dr. Sujka explains that she doubled the amount of what was successful in undergrad and applied it to medical school. However, this time, it was more detailed.

3) Practicing medicine isn’t always clear-cut.

Medicine is a scientific discipline, but it is also very nuanced. This means that classes may not always align with the material you read in your reading materials.

“I assumed that evaluating symptoms would make me a good doctor when I entered medical school,” says Dr. Sandra Morris, Minnesota medical director at MedExpress. Sometimes, focusing on symptoms can lead to misinformation.

Medical students must be able to see the big picture to identify and treat a medical problem. This idea will help you in medical school and beyond.

4) It is important to prioritize personal time.

Medical students spend a lot of time studying every day. But, you don’t have to do that. Dr. Alain Michon is the Ottawa Skin Clinic’s medical director.

It is important to make time for hobbies and interests even after graduating from medical school. Dr. Morris says that a healthy work-life balance is essential to avoid burnout. These habits can be a key to your success in all aspects of your medical career.

She suggests that you look for flexible scheduling and hours in your job search. This can help you live a balanced lifestyle and make time for the things you love.

5) You can start preparing for licensure exams as soon as you get started.

It can feel like the United States Medical Licensing Examination series (USMLE), for pre-med students, is too far away to be considered at the beginning of your medical school journey. Our seasoned doctors say that this is the right time to start thinking about it.

It is important to prepare early to prepare for your exam fully. Dr. Sujka points out that SGU put a lot of emphasis on USMLE preparation, and with good reason.

He says, “They emphasize doing well on USMLE Step 1 because that’s the only thing that will get you a residence.” This is evident when you consider that residency program directors regard Step 1 performance as their most important criteria when evaluating candidates.


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