Nik, MS1

Wayne State School of Medicine
Rutgers University, B.S. Biology
From Bronx, New York
Age 22

What does your typical day of medical school look like?

Unlike a lot of medical schools, our days vary greatly. Some days, we may start at 9 AM, others we may start at 1 PM. This unit, however, has been fairly consistent.

8 AM: I hit the snooze on my alarm and prepare for school
8:30 AM: I am out the house and heading towards my car
9AM-10:30 AM: Sit for my first lecture, followed by a short break
10:30-12PM: Sit for my second lecture, followed by a short break
12PM-1 PM: Attend our anatomy preparatory reviews
1PM-2PM: Sit for third lecture
2PM – 3 PM: Sit for fourth lecture
3PM – 5:30 PM: Get dinner, hang out with friends, relax, talk, gossip
5:35PM-1:30 AM: Review lecture material, make practice questions based off of lecture notes, complete at least 10 BRS review questions per lecture, watch Board and Beyond + Khan Academy if needed. Occasionally, I will also sift through NCBI articles to gain a more detailed explanation for concepts I am weak in.
1:30AM-4AM: Read a fancy novel (even though I really shouldn’t be doing it)
4AM-8:30 AM: Uninterrupted sleep

How do your classes and lectures compare to those at your undergraduate institution?

There is absolutely no comparison between undergrad classes and medical school classes. What I learned in two semesters at Rutgers, I learned in two weeks during medical school. It’s that brutal. What I will say, is that undergrad material is really good for one main thing: understanding the basics. Plus, having at least some exposure to the material first hand, makes learning it again (but in depth), much more easier.

How has your approach to learning and/or studying changed since you were an undergrad?

So, I found that in undergrad, I could pretty much study the same way for every class. I practiced repetition and lots of practice problems, which worked for me. In medical school, my studying method became way more complicated. Not only did I need to know how to learn the material, I also needed to know how to retain it. For spaced repetition, I found that I prefer Firecracker. And for primary-based learning, I found that I prefer our class notes, Boards and Beyonds and BRS in that order. In order to solidify the information in my head, I found that making my own practice questions and then answering BRS and UWorld’s practice questions worked best.

How would you describe the student culture at your school? Are there special events or activities that you consider very representative of the culture at your institution? What influence has this culture had on your experience in medical school thus far?

I would say that overall, Wayne’s student culture is fairly diverse. You can find just about any ethnicity or culture here, and that’s reflected in our diverse student organizations. This has most likely facilitated our open, relaxed, and easy going environment, as well as our lack of racial tensions. Students at Wayne take pride for being so diverse and multi cultured, and it is one of the strongest highlights of our medical school

Can you give us a brief description of the area surrounding your school and the things you do for fun? What are some things you like and dislike about the city or town you are located in as a student?

I usually stay at home during the weekends to read novels, but many of my other classmates go out to bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. Downtown Detroit is really amazing and beautiful, with a plethora of things to do and places to go. There’s a huge casino in the area called Greektown, where our class parties are held. I’ve never been, but I heard they’re usually pretty fun and always have a huge turnout. Given that Wayne has ~1200 students, with about 300 in each class, I can definitely believe it. Right now, we also have an ice skating rink downtown, and I definitely plan to pay it a visit soon.

What would you consider strengths of your medical school?

Determination. Prior to coming into medical school, I was an all-around pretty average undergrad student. But going into medical school, I knew that I wanted to have a different experience. So I worked hard, reached out for advice, relentlessly kept changing my study style, and grew because of it.

What resources have been most useful to you in self-learning medical school material or in expanding on material taught in class? Can you briefly describe how you have incorporated them into your learning routine?

As stated before, I’m a pretty big fan of our class notes, Boards and Beyond, and BRS for my primary learning. I’ll then use Firecracker to cement my spaced repetition on past material. Occasionally, I’ll also use First Aid and Zanki to augment my learning, but I found that it wasn’t necessary or helpful in the slightest.

For questions (because I’m fairly big on questions), I use BRS as my primary source and then UWorld. Normally the latter isn’t recommended, but Wayne has started a new systems-based curriculum with NBME exams, and I have found that UWorld helps a lot. It’s definitely saved my hide on a handful of questions

How well have you been able to develop clinical skills alongside your classroom work first and second year? What does your institution do to help you develop clinical skills before the clinical years?

So, our school actually has a separate course called “Clinical Skills,” where we basically learn techniques online through prepared tutorials, and then we practice on standardized patients in exam rooms. We then get feedback from a classmate who we are paired up with, the standardized patient, and then an M4, acting as an attending, who we report our findings to. About every 3-5 sessions, we’ll then have an exam that is either P/F.

Many students also volunteer in clinical settings like during Street Medicine runs, addiction clinics, hospital shadowing, etc., which further helps to enhance our skills. All in all, the culmination of these opportunities and skills has had our class almost unanimously agree that we feel well prepared assessing a patient in the clinic

What is one thing you would do differently if you could go back to your undergraduate years or the time between undergrad and medical school?

Honestly, I would take undergrad more serious the first two years. I would spend the time to actually understand the material presented to me, instead of simply trying to pass the class.

Given the number of obstacles we face en route to a career in medicine, everyone at some point feels doubtful of themselves. How has this affected you and what has helped you persevere through these sorts of feelings?

The first few weeks were the worst. I was doubting my decision to purse medical school, to continue with medical school, and the school’s decision to accept me into their Class. I honestly thought some mistake had been made. And then…I sought help. That help turned my life around. It helped me to see what I was doing wrong, and how I could improve what I had been doing. To this day, I am still so so grateful for the amazing advice that I had received.

As for what helped me persevere: music, family/friends, and oddly enough our custodians. They have been my biggest cheerleaders so far, and for that I’m grateful. It has given me a purpose outside of my own will to succeed. I’m no longer pursuing medicine for me, I’m doing it for my future patients. And that’s what helps me to keep going.

How do you maintain your mental health while balancing school, work, family, and other social obligations?

As stated before, I don’t make the wisest decisions when it comes to sleep vs pleasure reading. However, reading novels is what takes my stress away. I’m still working on the balancing part.

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