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Third year of medical school is a different beast from anything you’ve had before. You’re going from studying the basic sciences in a laboratory to functioning as a part of a healthcare team. You’re expected to truly learn to begin to be a doctor- and by the end of it you’ll be expected to manage patients to some degree autonomously. It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, a lot of misery and just a lot- all at once. So with that in mind here is what to expect- #whatshouldwecallmedschool style.

Third Year


This is going to be you much of third year- sprinting around the place, going nuts and basically losing your mind. Live with it and own it.

That said, the biggest thing that worked for me in third year was confidence and trying to get comfortable. Some people and some places have this idea that medical students just sort of stand around like part of the furniture. And there are those who do that!

I’ve found that the people you work with and work for- attendings, residents, interns, nurses and above all the patients appreciate you trying to do things. So when you’re asked a question, answer it with confidence (not a question). Surgeons especially hate that. If you’re not sure, start talking about what you think is going on- typically someone will cut you off if you’re rambling. But if you see someone starting to fall over asleep you should probably stop.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and do things. In my third year, I’ve delivered babies, opened incisions, stapled heads, done ABGs and placed more Foleys than I would ever want to. The reason I got to do those while some of my colleagues didn’t is that I asked if I could!

Even when you’re on a rotation you’d NEVER ever want to go into- try to learn something.

On a psych interview

What I tried to do (most rotations) was pick one thing or one skill set I’d like to learn that I found interesting, was cool, or could help in me in my future field of choice. And then go out and try to get good at it.

So on OB, I learnt to deliver babies, and do cervical exams. The only way I got to do those is by letting my residents know that I wanted to learn and do those things, and them being nice enough to let me. But still- try!


Also, some residents may in general be not the most interested in teaching- that’s the luck of the draw. And that’s okay.




The other thing is prepare to do a good impression of a piece of furniture in some situations.

“This is my medical student”

My favorite is when you’re rounding on a team of 10 people, you all squeeze into a patient’s room and then you’re introduced in an offhand fashion as you have to half sit on the patient’s grandmothers lap.

Though seriously, people don’t really hate medical students. They know we’re learning, that in a year or two, or three we’ll have an MD or a DO after our names and need to take care of them. And most are okay with us learning on them.

It helps if you are comfortable, a little charming, and not totally creepy- a high bar I know.

It’s okay being the wall, but if you’re comfortable introducing yourself do so.

And with that we’re back to confidence. If you want third year to go well, be confident. If you’re not, fake it- till you feel confident and comfortable. The hospital is an alien environment for everyone initially, but if you want to be seen as a better medical student (and one of the most important things for anyone evaluating you is how you interact with those around you)- for two med students with the same thoughts, grades and physical appearances- confidence can make one seem a far better physician to be than the other.


As I round off the remainder of my surgery rotation and consequently the last rotation of third year, expect some more gems like the ones above. And if you’re interested in medicine/ in med school/reminiscing about the torture that is med school dive into #whatshouldwecallmedschool. I’ll leave you with a link to one of my favorites.