Friday, July 5, 2013

15 Med School Necessities

There are several medical students that have already started their first year.  My school is one of the institutions that begins during the Summer, unfortunately LOL.  Nevertheless, this post can be helpful to not only those that have already begun, but to those that are gearing up to start in the Fall.  Target usually has a pretty nice sale on school supplies well before grade school students begin, and I personally like to be the first in line to purchase some things I consider to be necessities (for the most part).  If you know any better you'd get there early too.  Mom's don't play around when it:

A) comes to their kids.
B) involves sales.
C) signifies a time when kids are going back to school.

I'm just kidding around, although, those were all true for my mother.   Anyways, here goes the countdown of supplies needed for med school success.  Well, not really success, I just thought I'd be a little dramatic lol.

15)  To Do Notepad
It's important to stay organized in school period.  Keeping a To Do List helps you to stay focused, prioritize, and minimizes feeling overwhelmed.

14) Tabs
Yet another tool to help you stay organized.  As you can see I love colors!!!  I don't really have a system for the colors I use.  Nonetheless, they help me to identify subjects/facts that I need to know for sure.  Sometimes during a lecture a prof may hint...THIS IS IMPORTANT (RED TAB w/ a star LOL). 

Carrying around a bunch of course packs or books are mad annoying.  So I consolidate all my material according to tests.  For example, everything that's on Exam 1 will be in my binder at the same time.  Then once that exam is over I switch out that material for Exam 2's material. 

12) Binders
Get ready to invest in the binders stock!  During my first year I purchased so many binders it wasn't funny.  No, really, it wasn't funny.  I would spend about 15 bucks on binders per semester.  Then I tried the whole binding of the course pack materials by exam.  That didn't work because I was still using binders.  Now, I've wised up a little and recycle them.  I bought some crates to put my old course packs in so that I can put the new course packs in the binders.  I guess you can so I sold my stock...or not lol.  Oh, and for those that do plan to purchase some binders...get nothing less than 3in.  As I already said my binder has the material for 1 exam in it.    

11) Paper Clips
 These aren't really necessary.   However, they do come in handy to help separate things.  Some people use them to mark off content they've already studied.  I'll use them to attach my personal notes to my course pack material.   I bought them during 2nd semester of 1st year and as you can see I have plenty more left lol 

10) Lip Balm ;)
No one wants chapped lips when sitting in lecture for 4+ hours.  Muah :) 

9) Notebooks
Yes, yes, the good old notebook.  Once again, depending on your study style you may not use notebooks.  I use them because I rewrite some of my notes.  Also, some profs presentations are not too good (no disrespect or shade LOL).  But in all honesty some profs will submit an outline.  Yes ma'am an outline.  This means that you'll have to transcribe everything on additional pieces of paper.     

Last, I take notes in classes that don't come with a course pack as well (i.e. OMM---> Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine for those that aren't aware). 

8) Pens 
This is where the fun begins!!!! Many of you can already tell that I love colors.  So why would my various pen collections be any different?  But seriously, have multiple colors helps me to stay organized and to maintain my interest.  It can get pretty boring flipping through 100's of pages, and if you're paying attention to the background of this photo we are currently studying the Gastrointestinal yeah, the colors Duke, the colors (anyone remember that commercial???? NO? Ok! lol). 
 The multiple colors in one pen can be helpful during lecture.  The profs, usually doctors, are normally speaking a mile a minute to get through their content in the hour or two that they have been allotted.  So, there's no time to switch pens.  You could do it the old fashion way and take notes in one color and go back and add colors later, but let's be honest...there's no fun in being old fashion. LOL j/k

7) LARGE WALL Day Calendar
The wall calendar was recommended to me by one of our academic counselors.  After taking Anatomy during the summer of 1st year I felt a little burned out or unmotivated (yeah, that's it...unmotivated.  Burned out came at the end of 2nd semester LOL).  Nevertheless, I sought out help immediately because med school is a MAR-A-THON (yes, I had to break it up to emphasize the truth in that) so you need to figure out how to pace yourself.  Back on task though, he helped me to see that I am a rewards person.  I need to study for a while, then reward myself, and start studying again.  Using this calendar helps me to keep track of the MOST important dates.  If I have 3 weeks until the next exam rewarding myself an extra hour won't be an issue.  However, if the exam is in 3 days (like it is right now) then I need to buckle down.  He also noted that using our iPhone calendar is not as effective as using a wall calendar.    
6) Wite-Out or Correction Tape  
We all make mistakes's not just me LOL.  I can't stand to look at scratch outs/strike throughs either :S  I purchased this in bulk as well.  Here's the link Amazon-White Out Bulk

5) Laptop
Most schools have gotten with the times and now allow us to stream lectures either while they're happening or after they've aired live.  Also, many people use a study system that requires a computer.  But don't get me wrong a lot of schools also have computer labs.  So if you don't want a laptop or simply can't afford on there are other methods you can use.  

4) Highlighters
 More colors!!! Yay!!! Highlighters are another product you'll feel as though you've made an investment in.  We run through yellow highlighters like nobody's business.  I personally don't have a problem with this though.  It brings life to my coursework LOL. 

3) Bookstand 
Studying for hours and hours can do numbers on your back and neck (thank goodness for OMM practice LOL).  This bookstand helps to minimize the angle that you have to hold your head while studying.  You can look straight ahead (for the most part) rather than looking down (OUCHHHH). endorsement deal here BTW.  I got this idea from a fellow med student.   I bought this off of Amazon-Rosemary Bookstand and the shipping cost more than the actual product LOL (just a heads up).  But my neck and back thank me for the purchase.  They have different sizes too.       
2) Watch or Timer
You want more free time??? Well here's how you get it.  Sit down and study using a timer.  I watched a documentary that followed some medical students throughout their 4 years of med school to their 10 year reunion (I think that's the timeline) and one of the students would study for a minimum of 6 hours not including bathroom or water breaks.  Seems like a lot but when you use a similar method (of course adjust the time if you need to) you'll have more "reward time" for yourself.  So watching your favorite TV shows later that night, going on a nature hike, spending time with the family, or blogging won't feel so bad/cause an anxiety attack.    

1) 2nd year COMLEX  or USMLE Prep Books
Now you may be wondering why in the dickens should you get a boards prep book during your 1st year and I can see why that would be a question.  But this was advice given to me and some other students before I was even close to starting medical school.  He told us it was important that we become familiar with the books and the type of information in them.  We didn't need to do board prep questions...that's not the important part.  What's important is seeing what kind of information might be on boards.   This will help you take a little something extra out of your lectures.  I got the binding cut off of my test prep book and take out the different subjects according to the classes that I am taking.  This allows me to write important, or emphasized, facts along the sides of the material so I won't have to double back when I start to prep for boards.  :::Side note::: 2nd year comes around a lot faster than you think.  :::Side note over::::  However, I wouldn't let filling in the helpful info interrupt my actual learning.

Well, that's all I have for you.  If there's anything else you'd like to know just comment below! I hope this was helpful :) Ohhhh, most of everything I talked about was purchased from Amazon (yet another company I feel like I should have stock in) and I try to buy them in bulk (i.e. the tabs, highlighters, white out, post-its, pens, etc).   Good luck my fellow comrades!   


  1. I like those sticky tabs that Post-it and other brands make to mark important pages/sections (they come in fun colours too!).

    1. I'm starting to think I buy these tabs simply for the colors LOL. No, I think they are useful and help with organization. The unfortunate part is that they are so expensive. I try to buy them in bulk off Amazon because I use so many. LOL