A Week in the Life of a First Year Medical Student

Not one of my more interesting blog posts, but nevertheless here is a typical week in the life of a first year medical student. If you notice gaps in the schedule I am probably either sleeping, eating, calling my family to catch up, or trying to get a run in. There is a ton of work in medical school, but it is definitely doable (maybe even a little enjoyable). I have plenty of time off to do some of the things that I am interested in. All in all, I pretty much love medical school 90% of the time. By the way...all of the following goes out the window the week before a test. I literally, no exaggeration, study for at least 10-12 hours a day, every day for 5 or 6 days. That sucks.


6:45 AM - This it the time I wake up every single weekday. That way I can take my time getting ready. I have a coffee, breakfast, shower and make sure I have all my things packed up for lecture. I also check emails and make sure that I don't have to be dressed up or anything special.

8:00 - 12:00 AM - There are 4 lectures every single morning. The topics vary: anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, neuroscience, clinical skills, careers in medicine, guest speakers on interesting research or other opportunities, etc. Most days the school does a good job of mixing up the subjects so that we don't get saturated by the same subject. Attendance to these lectures is not mandatory 95% of the time. However I usually try to go to all the lectures. I like listening in person, but I write down very few notes. There are plenty of students who sleep in and/or just listen to all the lectures via recordings.

12:00 - 1:00 PM - Lunch, the most sacred of breaks. No matter what is going on, I don't study during this period. I eat with friends or attend random meetings/presentations for free food.

This is the base schedule Monday - Friday for a standard (non-test) week. I will not rewrite this part for each day. 

1:00 - 3:00 PM - Anatomy Lab CoTeach - Each human cadaver is shared by 6 medical students. However, only 3 of us are dissecting on any single day. Therefore we meet once a week as a full group to teach each other what has been done. There are usually review questions, and lots of professors around to guide us through the body. Very little dissecting is actually during co-teach sessions.

3:00 - 7:00 PM - Study

7:00 PM - Midnight - Watch Monday Night Football, mess around on the internet, or if the game isn't interesting to me, I usually catch up on shows that I missed during the rest of week via Hulu or iTunes. I like to start off the week slowly so that I don't burn out on day 1.


Typical morning and lunch

1:00-3:30 PM - Small Group Meeting. This is one of my favorite activities of the week. There are 9 medical students and 2 preceptors (clinical MD's) in each small group. Each week, 3 of us will practice our medical history and physical exam on a standardized patient. The others will observe, practice their patient write-ups, and give feedback to the interviewers. We go over clinical skills and just work on getting better with talking to patients. Our small group is already really close-knit and our preceptors are super nice and helpful so it is an enjoyable break from the classroom.

4:00 PM - Midnight - Some combination of dinner, emails and studying...with studying taking up 90% of that time. Tuesdays are one of my heavy study days. Always try to be asleep by midnight though.


Typical morning and lunch

2:00 - 6:00 PM - Study (getting a picture of how things are in medical school yet?). Roughly every third week we are in the simulation lab learning on super expensive medical dummies how to do an assortment of doctor-like things.

6:00 - 11:00 PM - Date Night - My girlfriend and I have carved out a portion of each week that is sacred from studying, emails, and all other commitments. We do dinner and a movie, or a wine-tasting, or trashy TV and popcorn. It is situated right in the middle of the week so that we stay sane.


Typical morning and lunch

1:00 - 4:00 PM - Anatomy Lab - Here is when my group is doing dissections. Depending on the body part, the time can either fly by or be incredibly aggravating. I love my dissection group though, we get along and talk about pretty much everything. It really is the best way to learn human anatomy, it just sometimes isn't the most fun (or best smelling) experience.

7:00 - 11:00 PM - Study, study, study - try to catch up


Typical morning and lunch

I love Friday afternoons, we almost never have any commitments. I usually take the afternoon off, although once we are within a week or two of the test I will be in the library.

Saturday and Sunday


I plan my weekends around whether my favorite college and professional football teams have big games. I know that I need to get in 10-12 hours of study total over a typical weekend. I also play intramural flag football every Sunday. Weekends are generally awesome, except before tests when I will be in library more than I am at home.