Buckle up, kiddos, medical school is a wild ride so let me share the sage wisdom I’ve acquired over three and half years of faking it. Just like med school itself, I’ll start nice and easy with first year. You have a load of free time this year so plan ahead and be proactive about how you want to use it. You run out of weekends quicker than you’d think, and unless your dream travel plans include the library and hospital, you won’t have much time for them second and third year. As someone at the tail-end of residency interviews, I promise nobody cares about exactly how well you did in the preclinical years. However, M1s and M2s are the heart and soul of a lot of student organizations, so do get involved in a group you like, run a marathon, or complete your hand-sewn doll collection — I don’t care. Residency applications generally aren’t as much of a checklist as medical school applications were, but they want to know you’re passionate about things. So, seriously: Stop worrying about what people want to see, find a couple activities you love, and dive in head first.
If your passions already include an area of medicine and you’re locked in, good for you. If not, you’re not alone. Try to get exposure to things you might like (in retrospect, I wish I had done more shadowing first year) and be honest with yourself about whether you like them in reality or just conceptually. Maybe I’m a sap, but I wouldn’t underestimate the significance of 1) how you feel when your alarm clock goes off and 2) the places your daydreaming mind strays to.
Speaking of daydreaming, I bet some of you lovebirds are wondering about that hunk/cutie that keeps glancing at you from two tables down in Anatomy lab. My lovely girlfriend and I, along with a boatload of our close friends, are couples matching so I can confirm intra-class relationships are definitely a real and workable thing. Advice I would give is to think about and openly discuss future (aka: matching) plans as early as possible. It’ll hit you faster than you think.
To sum up: Take advantage of first year; second year is terrible but you’ll survive and probably wreck STEP now that classes are pass/fail; third year is busy but amazing; fourth year is a well-kept secret and legit one of the most relaxed years of my life; and all of it will fly by if you let it.