I think my fellow 4th years would agree that we are happy we are nearing the end of this journey. I also think we would like to travel back to 1st year and relive a few things, maybe even redo a few things. Here are some tips for you new ICO first years:
Get to know your classmates. You will find some of your best friends here. It may be scary at first, but everyone is in the same boat. Make sure to go to Joe’s on Weed Street on the first Tuesday of the quarter. Go to ICO Olympics on Saturday. Join an intramural team. No matter what you do, just meet some people.
If it takes you a while to warm up to people, that is OK, too! If you are nervous or incredibly shy, that is OK! I had a panic attack my first week and had to leave for a few days, but guess what? I made it to fourth year, and so can you. You may not meet your best friend the first day of Orientation, but there are plenty of chances to meet everyone. Bonus- you may even be one of the many who meet their significant other here!
During Orientation, you heard “Study, don’t fall behind,” “You will fall behind, but catch up,” etc. Yes, studying is important. However, make sure to take breaks. No good will come from you having your nose in the notes every second of every hour. You are in one of the best cities in the country, so explore it! Taking a break and letting your mind rest will make sure you don’t burn out. My recommendation is to go out, rent a bike, or walk along the lake. Go downtown and eat (see all my blogs for places.) Get out and have a beer or two (just not before an exam) or just watch Netflix. Do anything to have a little bit of fun.
3. Get involved
You don’t have to join every club that ICO has to offer, but do something in the school that doesn’t involve learning. If clubs aren’t your thing (it wasn’t mine,) make an intramural team, or even better, get a work study job. I found that when I got a job, I felt more comfortable at school because you get to see part of the school from a different side.
I worked in the IEI, which I found super helpful. You get to have a relationship with doctors and others who work in the clinic before even seeing your first patient. This, in turn, leads to more people rooting for you when you do start taking patients. Or, you can work as a tech who does OCT and photos. This gives you an opportunity to learn some important skills before you learn them during externships.
I wish I could ignore this, but, studying is important. My main advice is to remember why you are studying. You are studying because you want to be the best doctor for your patients, not because you want to ace a test. There are tons of different methods on how to study, some use notecards, some just memorize notes and some use study groups. I personally found study groups helpful. I have the best two study partners. We would study on our own and then meet the night before the test and run through everything. Also, utilize note-taking. It is not a waste of money, especially if you have some fantastic note takers like our class did.
And remember- this is not a competitive program. Everyone here should want others to succeed. We had some awesome classmates who would write their own notes, charts, etc., and share them to the class Facebook page so everyone could use them. If you are one of those people, share!
5. Prepare for boards
You don’t have to order KMK and start cramming for boards. However, keep your notes organized as you go. If you do make charts or notes of “important things,” make sure to keep those- especially when you start your disease classes. It will help you to be organized when you get to third year and need to start preparing.
Take a deep breath, first years! You have made it to ICO. People may warn you that it is hard. You may want to faint after having three exams a week. Just remember to breathe. If we can do it, you guys can do it. If you have questions, ask for help. No one will turn you away or laugh at you. Explore Chicago, make some great friends, and become the best doctor you can be.
Congratulations from my class to yours. We are here if you need us!