_ This week marked the day I’ve been waiting for longer than I can remember – the start of medical school! The first week of medical school was O-Week, your classic mix of intro and fun to ease you into school. Intro sessions, speeches, welcomes, pub nights, scavenger hunts, and coffeehouses galore. It was an awesome week filled with meeting new people, orienting yourself with a million new acronyms, and settling into the reality that you are now a medical student.

Over the week I was able to learn a few key takeaways that I hope to carry with me throughout medical school and I hope you can adopt a few of these into your own life, whether its for school or otherwise.

1. You’re surrounded by people smarter than you.

On the first day we heard the class stats. I’ve been pretty open about my struggle with medical school admissions, so I knew when the stats talk came up that I’d be a little squirmy. 3.84 GPA and 10.7 Verbal were the averages of students admitted to our class. Man did I give myself a pat on the back when I heard those numbers. Hard to believe that little ole me with a 3.58 and 10 verbal squeaked in there, but here’s some hope for those of you on the lower end of the spectrum – you can do it! Instead of being frightened by my peers, I’m using this as motivation. I know that I earned my place in this class, even if on paper it doesn’t look like it. I’m surrounded by people that can teach me so much, and for that I am grateful.

2. Meeting people is easiest when you’re all starting from scratch.

I think the best part about O-week is that you can literally walk up to anyone and start a conversation. Most of us don’t know each other from before hand and many of us are looking to make new friends to help us along this new, exciting, and nerve wracking journey. Remember that you don’t have to stay best friends with the person who helped you feel comfortable on the first day. Just remember that they did that for you, and maybe give them a little thank you for it somewhere down the line.

3. Having fun is just as important as working hard.

This message was repeated to us from students, staff, and faculty alike. Medical (and residency) are long and hard. If you don’t master the art of work-life balance now, how will you be able to achieve it when you’re in the real world? Don’t forget the people or things you love as you go along this journey. Oh, and don’t forget to call your mom (she’s worried about you and she loves you)!

4. Managing your social media presence is important.

Even if we don’t want it to, our social media is going to follow us along this journey. Going forward, we will be inextricably linked to this profession, and any public facing part of our lives will be subjected to scrutiny and judgement. The scary part is that the judgement will now be a direct judgement of our ability to be a good physician. Don’t take your responsibility to your patients lightly. How would you feel if a core part of your identity was being mocked by your physician online?

5. Building your support network is key.

Medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve never run a real marathon, but I can imagine you will need to stay calm and motivated to get through it. Your friends and family are going to be the ones that help you get past a midnight meltdown, and they will be the people that calm your nerves the night before you start clerkship. Hold these people close, nurture these relationships, and most importantly, never forget to say thank you!

Even though it’s only been a week, I can see myself growing as a person and physician. I know that the next 2 years and 8 months are going to pass me by faster than I can even imagine. I know that if I can carry my first week lessons with me throughout my time as a student, that I will graduate happy, healthy, and of course with an MD in hand.

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