Having just finished my third year here are the things that made my life easier.
1. Comfy shoes: Try walking around the hospital on rounds for >4 hours a day and standing in one place in a pair of uncomfortable dress shoes. I dare you. I can’t even imagine how it would be in heels. Buy yourself some comfy shoes for work. I use rockports when I need to be dressed nice and a good pair of sneakers for when I’m in scrubs. Invest in them- your feet will thank you.
2. UpToDate Mobile: You can signup for an uptodate username and password at any hospital computer and download the mobile app. If you’re not familiar with uptodate it’s the best way to quickly educate yourself about relatively recent guidelines, pathophys, treatment etc. Keep it on your cellphone so you can read whenever you get a second.
3. A stethoscope belt: Stethoscopes can be heavy. Wrapped around my neck it started making me stick my neck out like a turkey. Around Thanksgiving that’s a dangerous thing to look like. A stethoscope holder may not be the most fashionable thing around, but a few days in the hospital will make a sartorial slob out of any fashionista.
4. Snacks: Keep your white coat well stocked with snacks. You may prevent a hypoglycemic coma on Surgery, OB-GYN, and Medicine.
5. A gym membership: You need to stay sane in MS3- it’s busy and you’re going to need things out of medical school you can focus on. For me that was the gym. It was my endorphin rush, my cleanser and my calmer. Do what makes you happy dude.
6. Books: Walk around with the books you might need on your rotation. They’re specific so expect a post to follow later, but a good one year round especially around Step 2 time is USMLE Step 2 Secrets.
7. Reference Guides: Everyone suggests you buy the “Green Book” (used to be Red, now is purple). It’s the Pocket Medicine series and was questionably useful on medicine. Buy it if you’re really keen.
8. A credit card in your ID holder: Your stomach will thank you when you’re in the cafeteria with 10 minutes to eat between OR cases.
9. Pens: Black for the hospital- no blue. And keep your nicer pens on the inside. An attending or resident can snag a pen and “forget” to return it…
10. Fresh socks/Undies/Toothbrush: This one should be self explanatory- but post call- these are amazing.
11. Gum: If like me you’re prone to the sleepies especially after 4-5 back to back OR cases while sitting through a fascinating lecture on the biochemistry of transplant rejection- have gum in your pocket. Or your attending WILL make fun of you.
12. Someone to complain to: We complain. That’s what we do. We complain about our lives, the slights both real and imagined that we endure and the futility of our positions. You need someone to complain to- or lots of someones. So keep friends, significant others, classmates, parents, everyone handy. You’ll need them.
This will be one of the best and worst moments of your lives. My two months on IM was the most educational experience in all of medical school. The year will transform you from a bumbling and eager to please second year into a slightly jaded, somewhat educated, rather arrogant semi-physician.
In fact I’d postulate that the bulk of your learning pre-residency happens in this year. Buckle up. It’s going to be a fun (if slightly bumpy ride!)