6 Pieces of Advice for Just-Starting Third Year Medical Students

Now that I know where I’m headed for residency and recently worked with some just-starting 3rd year medical students as a teaching assistant, I feel ready to offer a few practices that helped me through my 3rd and 4th years of medical school. Years 3-4 of medical school are clinical practice years and years 1-2 are academic years, so the transition between the 2nd and 3rd year is challenging for most students.

My survival tidbits aren’t profound, but survival isn’t that profound either.

In no particular order:

  1. Use a sunrise light alarm clock. You’ll be surprised how waking to light transforms even the grimmest before-sunrise wakeups.
  2. Have a pump-up song and listen to it as you arrive at the hospital each morning. Switch up the song as frequently (or infrequently) as needed to ensure it helps you put on your game face…every…single…time…you…enter…the…hospital.
  3. Work hard, do all your work and beyond, and then strive to leave if you aren’t needed. Of course, only leave if you’re done with your work and it won’t compromise your grade or learning. I call this practicing self-dismissal. You’ll have plenty of time to be in the hospital at all hours during residency and at least you’ll be meagerly paid then, so go home when you’re done during medical school.
  4. Fight for moments to eat if they aren’t given. Try to eat all the food groups, just like you teach your patients to do. I know eating properly seems impossible at times, but anemia and other diet doldrums will make learning harder.
  5. Periodically take a moment to remember why you went into medicine in the first place – it can be a literal moment. This is most important during those periods when you aren’t sure you will survive. You will survive and there’s a reason you went to medical school so try to remember it.
  6. During the busiest rotations you can’t sleep enough, see friends, exercise enough, and study… so pick the two most important ones each busy rotation. It doesn’t have to be the same two each rotation. Know that there are slower rotations where you can do all these things, but sometimes you simply can’t have it all.

That’s it. You got this.