Florida State University College of Medicine
University of Florida, B.S. Biology
What does your typical day of medical school look like?
First two years are like most medical schools except it is early start (first week of June). First year summer is all anatomy. There is lecture every afternoon and dissection right after. Mornings consist of small groups and/or learning physical exam in the clinical learning center with standardized patients. Summer is broken down into 3 blocks (3 exams). Each exam has a written and practical portion. I know some schools only do protections for anatomy, but FSUCOM actually has you do the dissections. You receive your white coat at the end of the summer and get a week off before Fall kicks off.
The block schedule for the rest of first year is as follows (in order): Medicine 2 (Biochemistry and other foundational concepts), Host Defense (immunology/micro), Cardio/Pulm, Renal/Endocrine. Classes are in the PM for first year and you will have one small group session and clinical learning activity/session per week. Most lectures are not required but all small groups and clinical learning activities are. In the Spring, you will do rotations with a doctor in the community every other week. At the end of first year and extending into summer, we do a 3 week rotation with a physician at various locations around the State. We have off for ~3 months before M2 year kicks off – about 20 students TA for the incoming classes summer anatomy course.
2nd year is much like first except for the dreaded USMLE Step 1 awaiting everyone in March/April. Block schedule in order: GI, Neuro/Psych, MSK/Derm, Heme/Onc, Repro. Just like first year, pretty much same schedule except flip flopped. Lectures in AM, other activities in PM. All blocks except neuro/psych (which has a mid block exam and final) have one final NBME exam at the end. Need >70% to pass. We finished our last block at the end of February and were given ~7 weeks of dedicated study time, which is more than enough. We have a 3 week bootcamp after Step 1 to prepare us for 3rd year rotations, then get 2 weeks off before we head off to regional campuses.
Can’t comment much on 3rd year/4th year since I’m just kicking off. 3rd year has 6 required core clerkships: Peds, OB, FM, Surgery, IM, Psych. We also get two 4 week flex rotations and do a 2 week community medicine rotation. Every Wednesday AM throughout the year we either rotate with a local physician for a longitudinal experience or work on a QI project with 1-2 other students. Wednesday PMs we have doctoring lectures. 4th year required clerkships are FM/Internal SubI, EM, and Geriatrics.
How do your classes and lectures compare to those at your undergraduate institution?
Lectures were not terribly different than my science undergrad courses with the exception that there is a clinical spin on all material. Material is also much more in depth (except for maybe biochem). Outside of lecture, clinical learning and small groups were much more hands-on and applied than anything I did in undergrad.
How has your approach to learning and/or studying changed since you were an undergrad?
Most definitely undergrad was a different beast and the approach to studying was completely different for me. In medical school, most of my class ended up using outside resources to prepare for Step 1 and the large majority wouldn’t go to lecture or even watch the recordings. This approach was awkward and hard to trust at first, and not something I could ever envision doing, but it was almost necessary to do well on Step 1 (also did better on block exams doing this). The biggest difference was learning to stay on top of the material and that cramming wasn’t effective for long term retention (shout out Zanki).
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?
We have these things called learning communities in our school. Basically, they are giant rooms each with a giant living area, kitchen, bathrooms, shower and 4 private study rooms equipped with projectors and white boards everywhere. There are 4 of these total, and the class gets split up into groups of 30 assigned to different ones on the first day. So, you immediately get to know people on your first day. Eventually, you’ll meet everyone in the class. Most people in my class were in friend groups with people from all different LCs. One of the benefits of starting so early during first year summer and being down in the anatomy lab is that you have met nearly everyone in the class by the end of it (before most schools have even started). This LC concept in addition to a true P/F curriculum without ranking during the first 2 years definitely aids in our class being very tight knit. Obviously there are cliques and friend groups that develop, but overall everyone is friendly with each other and share resources to help each other out. One negative of FSUCOM is that for 3rd and 4th year, we do our rotations at different regional campuses. We get split up into groups of ~20 students and go to different sites around the State (Daytona, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Ft. Pierce) to do rotations. So, it kinda sucks when you have to say goodbye to your friends that aren’t going to your regional campus.
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/town you are located in as a student?
Tally is an interesting city and has a lot going on. There are a lot of fun bars/clubs to go out at night. Collegetown area was most popular for our class. There is also the capitol building. Some of my classmates went there several times to speak with reps/senators regarding legislation they were passionate about. There’s a lot of nice parks around the area and a lot of great local coffee shops to study at. Like – extremely short commute, great college town. Dislike – not the safest city (but what city doesn’t have crime?)
What would you consider strengths of your medical school?
Fantastic student support system. Tight knit class. Regional campus rotation set-up (because of this, we are almost always rotating with physician one on one and get wayyyy more exposure to things other med students do not).
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?
ANKI. ANKI. ANKI. Also, shout out Dr. Sattar (Pathoma), Sketchy Medical, Boards & Beyond, and First Aid. This is pretty much all I used to study. Stick to those and learn those well and you’re pretty much guaranteed to at least pass boards.
How much/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?
You rotate with a physician in the community for Spring of first year and Fall of second year. At the end of first year, we do a 3 week rotation with a physician somewhere in the state. On top of this we have weekly clinical learning sessions/exams where we learn/get tested to perform a new physical exam on standardized patients. Clinical skills are a major strength of FSU students.
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?
Wouldn’t change anything. I scribed for a year before applying. Best thing I ever did – would recommend it to everyone. Overall, my advice would be to apply when you’re ready and make damn sure this is what you want to do. This career is much more than just liking science subject matter and being smart. It’s about putting other people’s needs above your own for the rest of your life. This requires empathy. Empathy cannot be taught. If you don’t have empathy, find a different career. If you’re in it for the money, you’re extremely misguided and I strongly suggest you look at the finances that go into a medical education + the opportunity cost from years lost through med school/residency/fellowship. There are a million better ways to make money. Don’t go into medicine if that’s what you’re doing it for.
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?
Comparison is the thief of joy. Understanding who you are and believing in yourself is the foundation for success. Don’t get sucked into our comparison generation. This is the reason why I had success so far in med school. The path to becoming a physician is not easy and it wasn’t intended to be, just stick to the course and it’ll be alright.
How do you maintain your mental health while balancing school, work, family, and other social obligations?
Organization and scheduling. Efficiency is key. If I can’t stay on top of things and fall behind in school, I tend to sacrifice things I like to do outside of medicine and that is not a good recipe for wellness.