10 Things You Need to Do Before You Go to Med School

Hanauma Bay in O’ahu


Disclaimer: This is a satirical article about the rigors of medical school.  Some parts are over exaggerated and some aren’t.  Sometimes you have to put on blinders in order to focus.  It’s tough, but still doable.  Hopefully, you’ll have a laugh while getting your mind right…

So you’re going to be a doctor?  Congratulations!  But let’s get down to the nitty gritty, while you still have time.  If you’re already in medical school, I’m sorry.  Study hard.  If you’re not in there yet, here’s a head start on getting it in.

  1. Binge watch TV.

There are whole swaths of time where I can’t remember watching anything except occasional episodes of “Girlfriends”.  I didn’t even have a TV until the second year of med school.  I only got that to watch the review tapes my Pathology professor gave us.

  1. Hang out with friends.

You might be able to periodically see some friends that live near your med school while school is in session.  If they’re not in the same city, forget it.  That girl’s trip?  Plan it now.  Once school starts, you ain’t going.  Your days, nights and weekends will be filled with classes and studying.

  1. Take an international trip.

Most international trips need to be at least four days to make it worth your while.  It will be really hard to find a block of time where you’re able to leave the country.  I went to Mexico for three weeks the summer after my first year, but it was for a medical Spanish course.  The next time I left the country was when medical school was over.  My classmates and I took a celebratory graduation cruise to Key West, Cozumel and Belize.

  1. Go to some concerts.

I went to a Mary J. Blige concert the summer after my second year.  That’s it.  I wanted to see Wynton Marsalis and The Alvin Ailey Dance Company so bad.  But it was like they knew my exam schedule.  Every time they came to D.C.  it was the weekend before exams and I would have to study.  Every. Single. Time.

  1. Visit your family.

Your family needs a visit with you.  Right now.  You will miss a lot of family events:  birthdays, holidays and family reunions.  Look at their shining faces now and implant them in your memory.

  1. Take a road trip.

Get in your car, or a friend’s car and drive to the ends of the earth.  Stop in every little souvenir shop and touristy place you can.  I still haven’t seen the Grand Canyon, and I’m sad about it.  Seriously, though.  See the country.

  1. See all the movies.

All of them.  Even the ones you think you won’t like.  I need to go back and do a movie binge on everything that came out from 2000-2005.  There won’t be many times during your med school experience when you can justify sitting in the dark for two hours and not studying.

  1. Read for pleasure.

I knew some people who read non-medical books during medical school.  I wasn’t one of them.  There is rarely a free moment when you don’t need to be reading about the Krebs Cycle or how gonorrhea can get into your knee.

  1. Sleep!

Oh my gosh.  I almost forgot this.  Sleep as much as you can and then sleep some more.  Get a better pillow and a fuzzy blanket so you can enjoy sleeping more. Once medical school starts, you and your lovely bed will become estranged.  I used to pump myself full of Mountain Dew and tobasco Slim Jims to keep myself awake for studying.  I had a classmate who would peddle chocolate covered expresso beans to those in need.  Sleep is a precious commodity for medical students.

  1. Do nothing.

Spend a lot of time looking at the sky, lying on your couch, etc.  Look at your dog.  See how he takes great pleasure in lying in the sun, rolling around on his back and scratching himself?  Follow suit.


In short, have all the fun you can while you have time.  Medical school will be fun too, just in ways that you never imagined.  After all, there are cadavers to dissect and interesting medical factoids to learn.  Go forth, young grasshopper, and “may the odds be forever in your favor.”*


Jarita Hagans, MD is a Family Practice physician and author of the forthcoming book, MD Dreams: Practical advice for Every Stage from Premed to Residency and Beyond.  You can follow her on Twitter @doctorjarita.



*this is a quote from the movie, The Hunger Games(2012)


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