Pain Points

Phase 1

Adjusting to Medical School

You just spent much of the past years thinking about medical school. All that studying… All those activities… You got into medical school. Great! OK, now you’re actually in medical school. Now what do you do? Is it like undergrad? Being in class seems vaguely familiar, but there’s more to it. You know that you will walk out of medical school as a doctor, but what does that process look like? How do you get yourself settled in your new learning environment? How do you get off to a good start? There are so many things to learn…

Potential Areas of Focus

  • Developing connection and community

  • Establishing early habits of learning and study

  • Exploring professional interests

Phase 2

Pre-Clinical Learning

You’re a number of months into medical school and are getting the hang of being back in school. Part of this feels a little “undergrad” to you. However, you know that soon, you will be in the wards seeing patients. So the learning has a sense of professional importance. Oh by the way, there’s a big test called “Step 1” that is looming. Also, you are starting to get involved in a number of interesting professional activities outside of class. How do you balance these priorities?

Potential Areas of Focus

  • Operationalizing your learning and study plan

  • Managing your current and cumulative learning

  • Explore professional interests and clarify
    professional intent

Phase 3

Clinical Learning

Just as you’ve developed some level of comfort with studying, and taking tests, here comes a HUGE change: clinical rotations. It is the reason that you’ve been studying all these years. Yet, it is completely different from what you have been used to. You are pivoting into the professional portion of your training. That doesn’t sound that hard, right? Actually, it’s a big change. Everything up to now has been about you: your grades, your time, your activities. Now, that is completely turned on its head. You’ll have to balance your learning as a student within a larger context where you are just a small part. It’s about others: the patient and the care team. It’ll be one of the most challenging but necessary pivots you will make. However, it is at the same time, the most meaningful part of medical school.

Potential Areas of Focus

  • Effectively connecting and adapting to new clinical learning environments

  • Shifting focus away from individual academic performance to learning and contributing the care team

  • Managing one’s personal and studying time, being flexible yet intentional

Phase 4

Professional Choices and Interviewing

Medical school is almost over. That went by fast didn’t it? Post clerkships, there are many choices to be made… What specialty to apply to? You’ll have many choices regarding sub-internships, away-rotations, and electives. For a large part of the year, you’ll be travelling around the country interviewing at various programs. It’s exciting, but at the same time, a little terrifying. After the interview, you’ll be making your rank list and crossing your fingers. Will you match at the place that you wanted? What a year! It’s a new phase, and completely different from the other phases.

Potential Areas of Focus

  • Making a well-considered decision about specialty
  • Planning professional activities to prepare for residency
  • Developing a compelling application and navigating the interview process