“My goal was always to do well in school while enduring as little stress as possible.” 

Dr. Daniel Paull, MD, wrote “So You Got Into Medical School… Now What?” as a guidebook for the new medical student looking to make the most of out of their experience with the least amount of stress. An orthopedic surgery resident, Dr. Paull undoubtedly used many of the techniques outlined in his book to match into one of the most competitive specialties.

Written with short vignettes from Dr. Paull’s medical school experience, the book is a pleasant read for any current medical student. I found myself personally identifying with nearly all of his short stories, from not being able to sleep before the first day of class to the uncertainty of being a student on clerkships. Each chapter also ends with a brief summary of main points for quick reading.

The first four chapters of the book dive into effective study habits and managing anxiety during the preclinical years. He argues in favor of detail contextualization as opposed to brute force memorization, but is realistic in admitting that a fair portion of medical school tests still rely on rote memorization. A chapter on “diminishing returns” or the idea that “the closer one gets to perfection, the harder it becomes to achieve it” also offers some much-needed piece of mind for students thinking they must be studying every hour of every day. Readers can tell Dr. Paull has spent an extensive amount of time thinking about study habits and effectiveness just by seeing some of the charts and tables he has drawn up in the book.

Clerkships, away rotations, and residency interviews compromise the latter half of the book.  Dr. Paull captures the inherent subjectiveness and random nature of third-year clerkships and gives readers strategies to make the most of the experience regardless. His chapter on the pros and cons of away rotations proves to be one of the most valuable parts of the book and is worth the read alone for those going into more competitive specialties.

Parts of the book  dedicated to test preparation (USMLE Step 1/2CK/2CS) are detailed enough to give readers an idea of the tests, but are lacking on specific details for preparation. However, each of these tests have entire industries of test preparation companies dedicated to them and readers would be better served looking elsewhere for more detailed board preparation advice.

Bottom line:So You Got Into Medical School… Now What?” is a solid beginning guidebook for any matriculating or current medical student that is looking to be successful during their four years.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author.

[Featured image via Flickr user Tim Sackton]