Read this before getting into medical school.

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Medical school is not just a place for geniuses, but a home for the purpose-hungry-soon-to-be healthcare professionals that charge for their healing powers.

Contrary to the first idea, doctors do not have the power to heal. They gained wisdom and knowledge through years of studying and practicing medicine. People in the healthcare and science community help hand-in-hand to educate themselves regarding treatments and providing support to patients.

Doctors do not heal patients, but they give temporary solutions to the patients’ health problems. “God heals, doctors charge,” is one of the quotes that I live by.

This article is not about how doctors charge through their job, but it’s about how medical school is. I’ve gathered 16 ideas that are helpful to know, especially if you’re an upcoming first year in a Philippine medical school.

These are out-of-the-world advice and I wish I had read it before, even if I was still in college.

Geniuses are not born, but created in medical school.

I chose the word ‘genius’ to describe medical students because they just are! They are intellectual beings committed to stay educated about the human condition because one day they will need to preserve human lives.

It is avoidable to think that you are incompetent and that you cannot be a genius. If you haven’t read it well, let TwoSet Violin preach you about geniuses being created and not born. This means you can be a genius with the right mindset and effective study habits.

Although, it is fine to not know what study habit is the most effective for you now. Experiment on all the study habits. Find the best system that will raise you from your old fearful self that believed you can’t be a good student. Because you can if you will.

Create your genius but do not close your mind to new ways. Be a genius that doesn’t boast, but shares what he knows to his colleagues.

Emotional quotient (EQ) is more valuable than intelligence quotient (IQ).

Physicians in training have a high level of emotional intelligence and the study finds that EQ helps make better doctors.

EQ can also help make people more resilient to the stresses of their profession and less likely to experience burnout. I quote this because I know most of us are already tired with all of life’s crappy misfortunes. There are tons of problems in the world and they certainly influence our emotions.

Working on your EQ is doing yourself and your future self a huge favor. Medical school is exciting at first but it can also drain your every day life due to massive readings, self-studying, and balancing life and work (in this case, being a student).

No matter how hard medical school is, you still have to have self-love and compassion. Hence, having a high EQ in medical school will help you become a resilient genius.

Medical school is a huge pain in the ass if you do not enjoy studying. At all.

Faye, my med friend, told me that med school isn’t as easy as how we see it from med vlogs on YouTube. It is completely 2 up to 4x harder than earning a college degree.

This is not to bring you down and make you change your mind about medical school. But it is a real deal and we can’t say “taym pers*” whenever we feel overwhelmed from the transes**.

Yet again, studying is what you have been doing and will continue to be doing for the rest of your life. If you do not love studying, brace yourself because medical school is going to be hell.

Learn how to love studying, reading, and practicing – it will work wonders. Remember: we study for understanding and NOT JUST passing that deadass-hardest-exam exam ever in the world.

Love your neighbors as yourself as you love studying.

— Meb

*taym pers: Filipino translation for “time, first” and in other words… “Chill, bruh”

**transes: summarized lecture notes, transcribed notes

Medical school and being a medical student is NOT everything.

A famous saying by William Hazlitt states and I quote, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Do not fall into the professors’ trap when they say that you should focus in medical school like it is your only life. Because I tell you, it is not.

You are a child of your parents first before dreaming to be a doctor. I’m saying, please, do not forget who you are and what matters most (clue: time).

Medical school is just 3 years of studying and 1 year of crying in hospital rounds. The only solution to a medical student’s dilemma of not having time for other things or people is to master prioritization.

It is easier said than done, but — we have 24 hours in a day. If we prioritize our studies and not waste time on unproductive tasks, then we can still have time to talk to our loved ones, take care of our body and mind, spill out our creative juices, and sleep at least 6 hours a day.

Medical school is like an index stock market. Invest well.

Unless you have a discount from a scholarship program or your university offers a free tuition fee, studying medicine will never be cheap. Tuition may range from PHP 20,000 to more or less PHP 150,000 per semester depending on your medical university.

Medical books are not excluded from the problem. Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Moore is PHP 3,400 and that’s just one book for Anatomy.

You will have more than 5 subjects for the first year. If you decide to buy books then it would cost you more or less PHP 10,000 for the books. Although there are cheaper books that you can buy, but will weigh 2x more than the original books.

If you do not care much about buying physical books like me and you are fine with e-books, then congratulations because you just saved a pile amount of money.

Know what books that you are willing to buy until third-year medicine and actually use them for studying. Pro Tip: Netter is a good investment for Anatomy because it is useful for human anatomy visualization. But don’t forget to invest well.

Invest in your study habits, use your resources, and you will gain more.

Adjust yourself into the medical school environment.

You will experience a new level of self-studying that is true, kind, and helpful. It could be draining at times because it is a fact — that one class lecture in medical school equates to a semester-long lecture in college.

Unbelievable but possible — only in medicine. Kidding aside, do not forget to keep calm and believe that you are capable of adjusting to the med school setting. ASAP. Just do it.

Allow yourself to grow in love with medicine as you self-study and take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.

One downside in medicine is that comparison will always be there, but please do not fall into their pit. Focus on yourself and know how you can fall in love with studying.

Help yourself and your friends out to get that MD after 4 hell-of-a-awesome-ride years! #ClaimIt

Your seniors love you. Seek help from people who know better.

Back in first year, I was thankful for the “buddy system” which my university had suggested to have. There was a 2:1:1 ratio from different years (1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively) in one buddy system.

It makes you feel that you belong in medical school because you instantly have buddies who you can ask help for. Befriend these smart people (your seniors) and learn from their wisdom.

They love their future colleagues. Seniors would love to help their juniors in any way because they know we need doctors. Don’t be afraid to create connections!

Ask for notes and you shall receive.

If you’re an introvert, it’s time to say goodbye to that comfort zone and find a mentor, join an organization or a support group, and make solid connections.

You may believe that you do not belong in a group — scratch that and start making friends. There will always be nice people out of all the other big fat meanies. 👿 Also, they will not be big fat meanies forever.

Help yourself and stay away from your comfort zone. So when you feel like giving up, you have people who will lift you and say that we’re all in this together.

I haven’t talked to my mentor since the beginning of time. But my other batch mates have a good relationship with their mentor and it shows. Sometimes their mentor treats them to a pizza party. #SanaAll

BTS is right when they said that, “teamwork makes the dream work.”

I did not know all the names of my classmates in medicine because we were 80 first-year students in one class. Don’t get me wrong, I know my friends’ names at least.

It took me weeks in the 2nd-year to completely know them all. We decreased in number, so it was much easier to remember their names at that time. Some of my friends left the school along with some of my blockmates whom I did not get to know.

I do not quote BTS in a negative way of defining teamwork, if you know what I mean. Unity in medical school is priceless and could even save everyone from failing. There must be no time for hate and crab mentality.

Being one with your colleagues is the best blessing you can ever receive in medical school.

Because in the end, we all only aim the same end-goal: to be a potential life-saver.

Distractions are dangerous temptations that pull you away from your dreams.

Imagine having emotional baggage and financial problems while trying to study for 3 major subjects. In medicine.

Studying alone is hard and if you’ll have to face other life problems on top of the demanding requirements from medical school, there will be a high chance of you seeing yourself crying in front of a mirror – asking why you experience all of these at the same time.

Any form of distractions that you let in will influence you to self-destructive behaviors. Letting the negativity aside, we do not need to dwell on these distractions for long.

Be mindful of what you are doing now, know if it contributes to your future, or if it solves any of your problems at the moment. If not, let it go and let God handle them for you.

Eliminate the triggers of your distractions if you can’t control your emotions or yourself anymore.

Breathe in right thoughts and breathe out things you can’t control.

Lazy students in medical school are lucky. If you are one, good luck.

I say this from the bottom of my heart: Stop. Being. Lazy.

How? Remember why you’re here in the first place.

You chose this career path and being lazy is not an option. Again, it is easier said than done.

Here’s a scenario from the past:

Back in college, I didn’t appreciate going to school early. And I was drinking every night. Procrastinating my review for exams and even not studying for a quiz. I chose it to be that way because I did not have strong values at that time. Luckily, I still passed college with an average grade (But of course, I knew God let it happen too).

Now here’s a scenario of myself from 1st-year med:

Imagine you see me going to school excitingly like it’s the best day ever. I sit in front of the class and willingly listen to the professors’ lectures. I make sure I use break times wisely by using my phone to read transes or books instead of scrolling through sns. After class, I go to the gym, then buy some fruits along the way home. I take a shower, eat fruits, and sleep. Wake up at 10 PM to study for 2 to 3 hours, then make my way to the bed again.

I changed my old ways because I knew I needed to. That change helped me to be mindful of important tasks and to say no to distractions.

If you’re like the college me, I pray that God let you change your ways too. You are not only lucky, but you are blessed.

It is allowed to take yourself into a date.

Life is short, so don’t beat yourself up. Do what you love most that will help you relieve stress. And take care of yourself before taking care of others. In other words…

Breathe, honey!

Continually remind yourself that you are going to be a doctor.

Imagine yourself as your ideal doctor now. Believe that you will become that doctor after years of training. Act like you are already a doctor even if you’re just on your way to the school’s canteen.

People will ask you medical questions as if you’re already a consultant. Don’t cringe when one of your professors call you ‘Dr. Insert your last name here.’ You are already becoming one!

It is also what I’d like to repeat to myself whenever I feel overwhelmed. I’ve written about how I dealt with anxiety from my first year. Constantly believing that I will be a doctor helped me to act like one.

Medical school must not be a hindrance to your faith.

Believing in Something bigger than you can be the only solution to your problems.

I’d like to think of that Something bigger than me as my Savior. My Knight and shining armor, best Buddy, and The Universe.

It is surrendering your anxieties, worries, and problems to The Universe. And believing that you are capable of becoming better. This also means believing that everything you’re experiencing now is happening because it is to teach you an incredible lesson.

Continuously working on your faith and having a great relationship with God is going to be the best that you will ever do for yourself. Be genuine with your prayers because He listens to all of it and gives you what you need.

Be grateful for what you have, where you are, and what you can be. Have faith.

Know your biggest and most story-worthy why in becoming a doctor.

Are you 3000% sure that this career path is what you want to pursue? Explain in detail with no less than 1,000 words and elaborate on the events that lead to your answer.

If there’s only one piece of advice I could share, it would be to know your deepest and most heart-clenching why.

To pursue a career path, one must be clear on the reason why one is pursuing it in the first place. I interviewed one of our professors and he shared his greatest why about choosing medicine as his career.

He told me that it was his dying grandmother’s wish. He took care of his grandmother before she passed away. My professor could not do anything more for his grandmother at that time because he said he was not a doctor.

Then he finally realized that it was the time to try and check if medical school was for him. Now he’s a Clinical Pathologist and a cool professor who writes books and reviews films during his leisure time.

You can have a different reason for choosing medicine. People will always be interested in your reason, but it is up to you to know what that is.

Once you know your ‘why,’ it would let you be reminded that this is what you truly wanted.

Our college degrees, achievements, and NMAT scores do not define who we are.

They just don’t. I wish I knew this before because I was aiming high with the wrong mindset.

Though having great credentials will help you enter a prestigious medical university that you admire but I realized an important lesson.

Whatever your past achievements do not conclude who you are right now or how good a doctor you can be. They may have influenced you to become a badass genius, but your patients won’t care about it. Patients will only care about how you’ll treat them.

And it’s up to you to find the answers.

What are other tips or advice that you’d like to share for incoming first-year medical students?

If you’re an incoming first-year this year, what do you expect from medical school?


Footnotes

  • Faye sprinkled some advice about distractions, focus, and adjusting to the medical environment.
  • Arianne shared her views about how important reading and studying effectively in medical school is.
  • Props to my OB professor who shook my world during my med interview and reminded me to know my greatest why.

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I created a playlist on YouTube about my One Year Off from medical school. Hehe it’s in Tagalog because nakakaloka mag English, pa-sub na lang po!

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