Tips for the Third Year of Medical School

Forget what you know about 4927466850_53ce280aa5medical school, the third year is a completely different animal. On top of being able to absorb a large amount of information, third year will test your ability to adapt to new environments, communicate effectively and work well with others. What follows is a list of tips I think will help you thrive during the third year.

1. Be Flexible

It’s number one because it is probably the most important. You will likely be changing clinical sites every 2-4 weeks. This means learning a new system, interacting with new people and having different expectations. This is probably the most difficult part of third year. You begin to become comfortable and then you are shipped off to a new place. Roll with it, get used to introducing yourself to new people and smile.

2. Practice Empathy – For Everyone

I see empathy as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Obviously this is useful when interacting with patients, but have you thought about being empathetic towards your residents, your attending, the nurses or your fellow students? For each of these people I asked myself, how can I make things a little easier for them? I found trying to think about things from my resident’s perspective allowed me to be a more helpful and involved medical student.

3. Put Away the Smartphone

I know there are incredibly helpful resources available online and through smartphone apps. But in general I think it is better to keep the smartphone in your pocket. You may think you are being discreet but people can tell when you are looking at it and even if you are looking up something relevant it still looks bad. More importantly it is a temptation that allows us to be easily disengaged from what is going on around us.

4. Read about your Patients and their Diagnoses

Everyone will say this because it is true- it’s the best way to learn. Things stick better when you can attach them to a real person. Countless questions I have answered on exams thinking back to clinical experiences I had with patients. It also allows you to ask relevant questions to your attendings and residents. You can say something like “I was reading about this, can you clarify something for me?”

5. Expand your Reading Beyond UptoDate

UptoDate is a useful and simple to use resource. If you want to go a little deeper, nothing beats finding relevant journal articles. I have found very helpful articles by searching Pubmed and specifying “Review” under article types on the left side.

6. Emulate the Best

You will have the privilege of working with and observing many physicians during your third year. Carefully observe the attendings and residents you respect the most and incorporate what they do into your own practice. What phrases do they use when they talk with patients? How do they talk with each other? What physical exam tricks do they use?

7. Adopt a “Craftsman” Approach

I highly recommend Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In it he advocates for a craftsman’s approach to all kinds of work. Essentially that means identifying skills and then constantly practicing and improving those skills. This can easily translate to medicine. Taking a history is a skill. Physical exam. Suturing. Communication with others. All these are skills that can be practiced and improved upon. Find areas you know you need improvement on and actively seek out opportunities to practice.

8. Relax

I hope I haven’t seemed too intense with these tips. Being perfect all the time is impossible. You have the freedom to make mistakes. Ultimately, if you show up and are eager to learn and participate third year will go great for you.

That’s all I’ve got for now, I hope these are helpful. What tips have you found to be useful during the clinical years?

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8 thoughts on “Tips for the Third Year of Medical School”

  1. After withdrawing from PA scohol I see that all of your suggestions seem very useful and realistic. I discovered that my study skills and tips and tricks needed adjusting. But I didn’t realize that since I’d completed a graduate medical education program and I thought I had good study skills. I didn’t realize that they needed some fine tuning until I had the water hose down my throat and like you said it’s a little too late to start changing study habits once you’re in. Also i did not study with groups as much. Now that I’m done, my professors have suggested that the pace of PA scohol is much too fast for some people because they are trying to slam nearly 4 years of med scohol into 2, so they have suggested that I try med scohol. Do you think that it’s reasonable to think that med scohol would be slightly more manageable pace? I plan to apply to a scohol again after I hone my study skills but I might consider medical scohol as well. One of the things that appealed to me about PA scohol was being completed in a little over 2 years because I have a family. What about med scohol since year 3 and 4 are clinical years does the pace taper even slightly?

  2. Dr. D, I came across your artclie tonight and I have to say that it is exactly what I was expecting to read and discover about Med school. theres a reason its the hardest thing to do. I have tw questions for you.First question, how can I be sure that Med school is the right way for me to go? I have been stuck in my mind thinking about this all year. I am extremely nervous about it since I tried out many different college courses and the only field that interests me at all is the medical field. Second question, what is a good major to declare? I have a friend who is an oncologist and he told me to stay away from declaring science as my major and to just do the medical prerequisites for my associate degree and then to declare a seperate major for my bachelor degree that is still not in the science department. This, according to him, will make my application look alot better. My problem is, what do you major in then?Thanks ahead of time and please get back to me when you get a chance.Sam.

  3. In my Application i want to hide the application symbol from the status bar, All thiggs going currectly but i could no able to get address of status item when i try to hide the StatusItem.When i have put breakPoint and try to see his value it shows 0*0 If i add the symbol of application the it show two symbol of that app and allows to remove second symbol.but not one.so can any oue help what is problem

  4. I don’t think so because the time it takes you to bemoce an LPN you can get your Associate RN in basically the same amount of time. You would end up wasting time. That’s just my opinion.

  5. what are you waiting for? Lets go ahead and intiiate the MOST important series of events in your life. Get the personal statement polished, your pre-professional liason in your school to begin sending out transcripts. They are now electronic in most states and even DO schools and they mass send. Get that handled, then bucket down for the MCAT results, hopefully over the 25minimum and pray you get those interviews. The best advice I can give you is to apply broadly and maybe even consider the schools in the east because I know California is just an insane applicant pool. Get a new suit and practice interviewing questions with friends, doctors, and parents. And lastly, fight, show them what a fighter you are, what struggles you’ve gone through. they want a toughened warrior.

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