How to Succeed in 3rd Year Medical School

The third year of medical school is made up of clinical clerkships, meaning loads of patients, lots of national board exams, and last but not least, residents and attending physicians that can make or break you. Honestly, it’s the pressure to perform at the top of your game every day that is the hardest part of the third year of medical school.

It’s one thing for a med student to have to learn loads of material and be tested once a month or week. It’s an entirely different thing to feel that you have to perform your best every single day, to feel that your future is being determined with every presentation you give, every esoteric topic you get pimped on, and whether you can manage an enthusiastic response to learning something on a rotation you have absolutely no interest in.

Being “on” all the time can make the third year of medical school exhausting. The medical students that best retain their health, and their sanity, in the third year of medical school are the ones that have a strong sense of self. If you don’t know what drives you, what keeps you healthy and what you care most about, then start figuring it out. Take that summer before third year to do some soul searching!

When you finally start your third year of medical school try to do your best, but know when you need a rest. Make the extra effort on the rotations closest to your anticipated future career, and don’t beat yourself up when you slack a bit on that one rotation that just makes you miserable.

Medical students are brilliant, motivated, and intensely competitive individuals. By the third year you should have figured out your best test taking strategy. Don’t veer from it! Be aggressive on improving your weaknesses as early as possible in your third year because it makes the rest of your year that much easier. If you are uncomfortable examining patients, take advantage of the opportunity to do it as often as possible. If you can’t give a power point presentation to save your life, volunteer (really, at least once!) to do a presentation on a topic pertinent to your clerkship’s specialty.

The third year of medical school can be a great experience if a medical student gets off to the right start and remembers what their priorities are throughout the year. Don’t let false ideas of expectations push you to exhaustion. Sift through the med student gossip (which will more often mislead than assist subsequent students simply because every single student is different from the one before) and the actual clerkship requirements to make sure you do what you need to do to get the grade that you desire.