October 17, 2017 by
Eric Schmidt, Class of 2018, takes a break from the rigors of his primary care rotation in Chinle, AZ by hiking in Canyonlands National Park.
#MEDSCHOOLADVICE is a monthly column that highlights questions from first- and second-year UVM medical students and advice from third- and fourth-years.
This month, Eric Schmidt, Class of 2018 reflects on his first year, what he would have done differently, and what he's learned in the past four years - outside of the classroom.
- Find a study method that works best for you. Schmidt remembers a stint of study habit stubbornness in his first year that led to a lot of wasted time and effort. Convinced that he should stick with study approaches that had worked for him in the past, he avoided the trial and error of trying different methods to understand and internalize material. Now he advises other students to "switch around your styles regularly until you find something that works." After all, he notes, "each course has a different variety of material and a different way to master that material," so the ability to be flexible in your learning and studying style is key.
- Prevent burnout with short 10-minute breaks. Medical school can be a very fun time if you keep doing things that you love, Schmidt says. Whether it's hiking, yoga, music, or something else, he notes that making time to do things that make you happy is important. No time for a hike? "Even short 10 minutes breaks can be very important in preventing burnout."
- Don't sweat the small stuff. "Do NOT stress about the little things," Schmidt says. "It is fine if you can't remember the small, obscure details from class, even if they will be on the exam/STEP/shelf." It's true that knowing these things is important for exams, he admits, but "there is so much more that you should get out of your medical education than knowing every possible fact. Understanding and knowing bigger picture ideas are so much more important for your education."
- Scores aren't everything. Schmidt encourages fellow medical school colleagues to not worry about their IRAT for TBL scores. Obviously, he says, students should come prepared, but often times the questions you answer incorrectly on a test make for the best learning opportunities.
- Find a support group to stay grounded. It's hard to stay grounded when you're in your clerkship year and packing up your car every 6 weeks to move to a different location - figuratively or literally. Schmidt says that the most important anchor for him during that year was the strong social supports and friends he made during his first two years at medical school.
- Be the keeper of your own energy. Low morale can be contagious, so Schmidt says that it's important to leave "the bubble" of medical school from time to time and seek out ways to restore your cache of positive energy. Getting involved in activities outside of school can help create the space to do so.
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