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You have successfully completed your first board examination. You are a third year med student, already halfway through medical school! Right when you start to think that you know it all, that you have finally mastered the art of succeeding in med school, life apparently decides to throw a curve ball at you.

All that you have learned until now–on the art of “learning”–isn’t going to be of much help during your clinical years. This is your time to actually “play doctor” and learn on real patients. It is an exciting time, but you are anxious because you need to get into a good residency program, and you really need a good evaluation. Your grades will no longer depend solely on the result of a week’s worth of studying before an exam. Therefore, you must make sure that you perform your best, each and every day.

The first rule to becoming successful on the wards is to know your patients, and their conditions! You surely don’t want to be like a deer caught in the headlights of a car when your attending asks you a question during the morning rounds (in front of your entire team). Try to learn as much as you can about your patients, and ask them the right questions. Review their charts every few hours and make sure to check on them every single day. As a med student, you might find that you are not the first one to be notified about the status of your patient’s condition but your intern is; good communication skills will be key here, so try to form good relationships with the nursing staff, and try to be your team’s expert on your patients.

Image of a deer caught in headlights.

Image Source: Steven Puetzer

The second rule to a successful third year, is to read! Make it a point to read every single day, even when you come home dead-tired from a 12-hour surgery rotation. Reading journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine or the American Medical Physician regularly can make a huge difference to making or breaking your time as an MS3. However, whilst you are at it, don’t lose sight of the fact that you will be tested on the things that you learn during your rotations, and then you also have your second board examination to prepare for. Make sure that you study hard; it will not only help you perform better on your shelf examinations but it will also allow you to understand and retain more information during rounds.

One other important advice for you is that, before jumping right in, you should first learn about how you will be graded by your evaluators. Although the grading will be very subjective, a careful understanding of what your evaluators expect of you can really help.

It may seem daunting at first, but third year is really what you make of it. Just keep on learning. Do remember to make time for yourself as well. Although med school is immensely important, your well-being is even more so! Try hard, be the best that you can be, and you will succeed. Don’t forget, you are already halfway through med school, so you can most definitely do this!

Good luck on your ventures!

Feature Image Source: 20110712-RD-LSC-0410 by U.S. Department of Agriculture

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