A Word with Second Year

For the students who have made it through the first year, congratulations to you. You have earned a quarter of your MD title. But brace yourself now, because school is about to get tougher. They will expect more of you, and you will need to rise up and meet the challenge. Much like my last list for first year, I have here a dozen pieces of advice for second year. On top of everything I have already mentioned before -which still apply - here is a quick guide to second year:

  1. Network outside your class. “If you made it up here, send the elevator back down.” Being the starting class, first year is all about getting mentored. Now, one step closer to clinical and more senior, you need to build outwards. Talk with your own seniors or mentor about going through second year, ask questions about what you should look out for in the following year, and set a good example for the first years. Give advice, notes, highlighters etc.
  2. Caffeine. Remember how I said you should save this for later? You can slowly get started on this but again, if you can hold out, do so.
  3. Help your fellow man. Study groups will be important to tackle the large volumes of information they will throw at you now. Create study groups and physical exam groups. Pose questions, give answers, and practice together. The networks you built from first year will be important.
  4. Fix, change, or improve. If something did not work for you in first year, do not make the same mistake again this year. Change it or improve it, keep it or leave it. We want to be operating a lean and battle-ready ship for smooth sailing.
  5. Adjust to the workload. Do not panic. This is going to come naturally. You will find school to be harder and with more material to study. Yet, it will not seem so bad. Part of that pressure and stress will seem familiar to you after a whole year of ramping things up before. So in the first few weeks, do not panic.
  6. Start reviewing for exams earlier. Earlier than last year. Give yourself some breathing space as there can be a lot of material to cover. Most of my class gave ourselves at least two months. It might sound a little extreme but you do not want to be caught unprepared days ahead of time with concepts you do not understand (see #3).
  7. Review books. Sure, the plenary notes were important but do not underestimate a good review book, especially when a senior tells you one has asked questions of similar difficulty and complexity.
  8. Borrow equipment. New physical exams may mean new equipment requirements. Whenever possible, borrow from somebody else if they already bought it. Come next year, you will get enough practice on the wards with hospital equipment that this short-term investment would be a waste.
  9. Stay healthy. Even more important than first year, you need to get in the habit of taking care of yourself. The expectations and challenges are only going to mount and you need to keep your body in excellent shape. This is a friendly reminder.
  10. Find balance. This one is also worth reiterating because it is so important. I cannot emphasize this enough. There is no point sticking your nose in the books and have the world, your friends, and your family pass you by. Take a breather and find time for yourself. This is the last year to really enjoy your life outside of medicine.
  11. Get your affairs in order. This one follows #10 above. A lot of personal moments happen in second year. People get married, houses are bought, and babies are born. Why? Because this is the most opportune time before your life changes forever. If you have personal affairs you need to get in order, do so this year before third year begins. We would not want to have the compounded stress of personal issues and medicine at the same time, now would we?
  12. Critical thinking. Remember when I said that you will need thick skin? With a bit more knowledge under your belt now you are going to need to start thinking more critically for when the doctor starts to ask you questions next year, or this year even.

Good luck and take care.

Related post: A Word with First Year. A Word with Third Year. A Word with Fourth Year.

Also check the lists by wayfaringmd, and cranquis.

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  5. aspiringdoctors reblogged this from medicalstate and added:
    Thank you! For any second-years who haven’t seen this yet…
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