Phew! You made it. You got into one of the world’s great medical schools, and certainly the most selective. Things are going great: you’re excited about meeting new classmates, decorating your new apartment, starting classes, learning to be a doctor…

Then it hits you. There’s so much to learn! And it seems to be more important than ever that you memorize everything you hear in class, and read in your textbooks. If you don’t remember that one formula from your Biochem lecture, your (future) patient could die! Not only that, but it seems like all the other med students remember everything! Relax. Feeling overwhelmed is normal. Take a deep breath, take another one.

(That’s enough, otherwise you might pass out from hyperventilation! More about that in second year.) You’re here because we know you can do the work, and that you will make a fine physician. If you’re still stressed out, you should know that there’s no embarrassment in getting help (not just academic) from others, be it your fellow classmates, family, or a counselor. The best advice I can give you is a perspective from my own anatomy professor who told me that he knew that our recall for his class material quickly waned with time. But he was confident that when we needed to use the material we forgot, we knew that it existed and where to find it. And that we could assimilate and use it very quickly, certainly much faster than learning it for the first time. He was right, perhaps even more so in this age of electronic information and internet search engines where information is readily available, but it’s really helpful to have a good idea of what you are looking for and a sense for the accuracy of that information. So remember, there’s no room in medicine for know-it-alls because they simply can’t know it all!

Wayne Yokoyama, MD
Sam and Audrey Loew Levin Professor of Medicine
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in Medicine
Professor of Pathology and Immunology
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program