Medical School - Years 1 and 2

Medical School - Years 1 and 2

The academic pressure in medical school is consistently intense. It is important to find a balance between study and personal life; your lifestyle will be different from that in college, but the workload is manageable.

Although there are exceptions, most medical schools devote the first 2 years to classroom and laboratory instruction in the basic sciences. Many provide clinical rotations and/or teach the basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology, pathology, and pharmacology) with a strong clinical correlation. Students also learn how to take a patient history, conduct a physical examination, and make a diagnosis. They become familiar with the art of the patient interview and study psychosocial aspects of medicine.

While your responsibilities and priorities will shift throughout medical school, certain themes persist. One of those is the importance of engagement in your profession, your specialty, and your training program.

Time is at a premium during medical school, especially at the start. Finding the time to gain clinical experience and solidify specialty interests is among the biggest challenges. The key is to capitalize on existing opportunities to get involved within your school or community, and when opportunities to suit your specific interests are not available, partner with faculty that will support you in pursuing these interests.

There is certainly variation, but most schools structure third-year core rotations in medicine, primary care, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. Short courses in ethics, health care systems, and similar topics are often provided as well; each medical school Web site will identify program specifics.

Pediatric Interest Groups (PIGs) can be a great way to learn more about the field of pediatrics during medical school. If the school does not yet have a PIG, the student might approach their faculty or administration about forming one.

Pediatric faculty, residents, and fellows are fantastic resources. Most physicians at teaching institutions, including clerkship directors and residency program directors, are delighted to talk with medical students and willing to be shadowed. Inquire about attending pediatric grand rounds to learn more about the field and hear notable speakers from outside institutions.

The pediatric chief resident often works closely with medical students; he or she can be a great liaison to the faculty. Chief residents can also advise about other opportunities, including volunteer options within the community. If a consistent time commitment is not realistic due to scheduling constraints, consider volunteering for a school health fair or educational event for local children. If none exist, recruit some students and hold your own event for local children!

Finally, upperclassmen can serve as great resources. Seek out third- and fourth-year students who have declared their interest in pediatrics and discuss the ways they explored pediatrics in their first 2 years of medical school.

Pediatric Interest Groups: Explore (or Start!) Your Group Today!

During medical school, students experience a wide variety of interesting fields, study for innumerable exams, and help to treat hundreds of patients. For some students, these experiences help to narrow career choices; for others, they only exacerbate the dilemma of having to choose which field of medicine to pursue. For those in the latter category, specialty interest groups may help.

Pediatric Interest Groups (PIGs) provide the opportunity to learn about and experience the field of pediatrics starting in the first year of medical school. PIGs sponsor talks and networking events, facilitate mentoring relationships with pediatric residents and faculty, and create opportunities to interact with pediatric patients and explore research interests. By introducing students to the pediatric community and enabling them to learn about the field from a variety of perspectives, PIGs can help students decide whether a career in pediatrics is the right fit for them.

The AAP has developed a series of resources, available on our Medical Student Webpage to help guide the development and funding of PIG events. Students, residents, and faculty around the country who would like to create new PIGs have found the AAP Pediatric Interest Group Resource Guide to be particularly helpful. Materials in the guide are continuously updated with opportunities and ideas that anticipate questions, concerns, and interests of students exploring a career in pediatrics.

Year 3 - Tips for Successful Clerkships >>>

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