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Medical School Orientation: A Third-Year Gives Advice to First-Years

Editors’ Note: This post was originally published in August, 2014. Given the arrival of new students on campus, we are sharing the post again so that members of the class of 2019 can benefit from the lessons on thriving in medical school that contains.

Einstein Class of 2018 M.D. students heading to an orientation event

Einstein Class of 2018 M.D. students heading to an orientation event.

To the incoming Albert Einstein College of Medicine Class of 2018, congratulations on your admission to medical school! Be prepared for an onslaught of information: advice, tips, good wishes, pointers, greetings, suggestions and introductions.

This post is part of that mix, but it will be brief!

If there is one thing I remember about the exciting transition from premed to med student, it is the abundance of resources and help available from day one. The best advice I can give is to be open-minded, listen to all the strategies generously offered and synthesize this unique blend of experiences into a blueprint that works best for you.

Reflecting on my own orientation has led me to realize how far I’ve come in the past two years. It feels as if it were just yesterday, and yet the wealth of experiences and transformations that have occurred since that hot, humid August also makes it seem as if it were many years ago. 

Joining the community
Orientation started with receiving my housing assignment and the names of my two roommates, who have since become very close friends of mine. One thing I’ve come to learn and love about Einstein is the rich community that fills every niche and corner of campus. It is not a coincidence that the colleagues you meet at orientation are all interesting, friendly and engaging people; Einstein clearly wanted it that way. The warmth is contagious! You’ll likely realize that all one hundred eighty-three members of your class share a special quality that helps make Einstein feel like home. It’s a very comforting feeling that I did not expect upon arriving at medical school.

At orientation, I recall a ton of events. I suggest getting the most out of them. We were busy with reflective exercises, personality tests (I’m a proud ESFP), class-oath workshops, club fairs, department orientations and more throughout the week. The second-year students leading orientation gave tours, offered their experiences and advice and helped facilitate social gatherings in the evenings.

Orientation did a great job of just that—orienting us. By the end of the week, I had a good sense of the campus, faculty, departments and student body. However, even with all this information, I was still apprehensive about what to expect once the work began.

The myth of the fire hose
People often say that going to medical school is like trying to drink from a fire hose. While at times it may feel this way, on the whole it is not true. I remember having a vision of endless nights at a desk that was cluttered with towers of textbooks covered in Post-it notes, lit by an old desk lamp. In an age of laptops and digital textbooks, why was this my vision of an insurmountable workload at medical school? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it was wrong and misinformed.

Medical school is manageable. You WILL have free time. In my opinion, it’s all about approaching medical school like a job. Take small pieces one day at a time and try not to get behind. But please don’t worry; Einstein’s curriculum is structured to ease you into this process. Histology and genetics were great modules that allowed me to practice different methods of study until I finally settled on one that worked for me. Eventually you’ll find what works for you.

So I ask you to relax. Yes, you read that correctly. Relax. Enjoy the numerous classmates you will meet in the coming months. In a few short weeks, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable you will feel at Einstein as you begin your medical school adventure.

Good luck and welcome to Einstein!

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Jim Semple

Jim Semple

Jim Semple is a third-year medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is also a peer tutor and board member of Einstein’s Emergency Medicine Society and the American Medical Student Association.

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