Before starting medical school, I was so curious about what a typical day would look like. How many hours would I study? How many hours would I be in lecture or in lab? Would I have time to work out? Would I have time to sleep? While this post may not explicitly answer every one of these questions, hopefully it will provide insight into what a normal day looks like.
Right now we are in our Structure and Function I module. This means we study gross anatomy (this week, it’s the upper limb), embryology (how those limbs developed), and radiology (how those structures appear on CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, ultrasounds, etc.). In addition, we are also in the midst of our EMT course which requires lectures and labs.
So, here is a look at typical Monday.
6:20 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – My alarm goes off. Do I get out of bed at this time? Of course not. The snooze button gets pressed once, maybe twice, and then I finally make myself get up. Thankfully, my coffee pot is set to brew at 6 a.m., so it’s ready by the time I hobble into the kitchen. I finish getting ready, eat a quick breakfast, and make my way to school for an 8 a.m. lecture.
8 a.m. – 9 a.m. – Clinical Diagnosis & Reasoning. In this class, we discuss various clinical cases that are presented to us. Today, we talk about five cases of acute dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and how this problem can stem from both cardiac and pulmonary etiologies. We are assigned learning topics. These are topics we research and educate ourselves on outside of class, then we present our findings to our small groups (shout out to Group 3!) later in the week.
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Gross Anatomy lectures. First, we cover the axilla, and then we move on to the shoulder and brachial plexus.
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Candidates for class president make their speeches. Okay, so this is not part of a typical Monday. Usually during this time, we will have an embryology lecture and learn how the structures we just discussed in gross anatomy develop.
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – Lunch! Today we get free lunch from Groucho’s (a local restaurant) after discussing the white coat ceremony and listening to the presidential nominees’ speeches.
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Anatomy Lab. We begin dissecting the structures that we discussed during lecture. Thankfully, an orthopedic trauma surgeon, who is visiting the lab, shows us a trick for finding the “M” in the brachial plexus, which makes it so much easier to identify.
3 p.m. – 5 p.m. – EMT Lab. We continue our bandaging practice. See my photo for the result.
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Head home, make dinner, and let my mind rest. Mondays are long days. Usually, we will only have a few days where we’re in class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. On longer days like this, I don’t plan on going to the gym or studying for more than a few hours at night. My mind needs a break after lecture and lab all day!
7 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Study . Let’s just say after covering the brachial plexus and previewing for tomorrow’s lecture (the arm), I have no shortage of things to look over. I cover as much material as I can by 10 p.m., and then save the rest to review the next day.
10 p.m. – 11 p.m. – I spend this hour hanging out with my husband and dog and catching up on Netflix!
11 p.m. – I usually try to be in bed at a decent hour. I am not a night owl and cannot function on little or no sleep. So far in med school, I have been able to maintain a good sleep schedule, and I hope this continues.
Hopefully, this gives you a little snapshot of what a day in the life of a first-year medical student is like. Yes, there are occasionally days like this — long and filled with a TON of information to learn. But, at the end of the day, I still love being a medical student and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
I am a Greenville native and a graduate from the University of South Carolina, where I studied public health. After graduating in 2013, I took a gap year and worked as a dialysis technician in Anderson, South Carolina. Also during my time off from school, I got married (nine days before medical school started)! I am currently enjoying life in the upstate with my husband and am thrilled to be a member of the Class of 2018. Follow along as I journey through these next four years at USCSOM Greenville.
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville