Book Excerpts Classroom Years

Chapter 3 - The Classroom Years:
Grades, Preclinical Effort, and General Philosophy

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Chapter 3My personal approach to the preclinical years was to treat the preclinical years as if it was a regular job. Before going medical school I was gainfully employed as an engineer. I went to work every day and left at 5 o’clock. Maintaining a regimented structure in medical school was important for me to remain disciplined and keep adding knowledge every day.

What I did was I would come to school at 7:15 every day even though lectures would typically start at 8:00, and I would just work until 5 o’clock daily. After 5, I would leave my stuff at school and bring nothing home. After 5, it was time for exercise, fun, family, eating, and just taking care of the rest of my life. This division helped me to stay disciplined while I was at work/school to make sure that I was focused, working, and not being distracted. This disciplined approach made the fire hydrant of knowledge not seem so overwhelming. It was a nice balance of giving my best effort and maintaining my fulfilling, sane life. I wasn’t specifically trying to honor every class, simply just trying to learn without regard for scores and competition.

In hindsight, I wish I had spent less time pursing interesting extracurricular activities (interest groups, volunteering, Schweitzer fellowship), and more time on Step 1 Board preparation. The activities were all fun and interesting, and frankly what led me to medical school, but I was a non-traditional student with a background that was weaker in the sciences. If you are in a similar situation starting out, you may be better served to spend more time studying and less time doing things that were interesting, fun, and probably more meaningful. In my view, the first 2 years of medical school are there to prepare you for Step 1, a critically important test.

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