Tips for success as a third-year medical student (MS3)

MD medical school admissions
By Amar S.

Title_ How to Study Efficiently for Hours On End (With the Help of a Tomato) (13)Clinical clerkships can be some of the most exciting times of medical school, but they can also be some of the most frustrating. Academic medicine can be very hierarchical, making it difficult for students to advocate for their own learning. Residents are often busy and stressed. Asking questions is often disincentivized – shouldn’t you just look it up on your own? Ultimately, every successful medical student learns how to navigate this quagmire over time. Here are some of the tips and tricks I used to be successful as a third-year medical student:

1. Be enthusiastic!

Look, not everyone is going to be an internist, a surgeon, a pediatrician, or [insert specialty here]. Conversely, this may be your only exposure to an entire field of medicine! Show some interest and try to take away what you can from your limited time studying these various fields. Being a medical student, particularly a third-year, is often a tough, thankless job, but a positive attitude goes a long way. If you show interest, your supervisors will be more likely to invest in your learning. Nurses, therapists, and other allied health professionals will also respond much better to you if you have a positive attitude!

2. Be proactive and seek feedback.

Challenge yourself to be more than a passive learner. If your resident is seeing a new consult, offer to tag along! Ask for feedback on your progress or for comments on your strengths and weaknesses. Make it a point to schedule time for feedback, and remind your team about it. This check in doesn’t have to be long – even a quick chat at the end of a day or week can give you useful tips for improvement (or highlight your strengths). Holding your supervisors accountable can also help break through the generic feedback of “keep reading,” the bane of every MS3.

3. Have an organized, defensible plan.

You assessments and plans are where you really shine as a medical student. It can be tempting to stop after getting a thorough history and physical, but challenge yourself to go further. Having a thorough plan shows that you’ve taken an appropriate history and physical and can incorporate the pertinent aspects into meaningful next steps. Have at least one reason for each of your recommendations, especially for diagnostic studies!

4. It is okay to say, “I don’t know.”

If you don’t know, it’s okay to say so! Medicine is all about lifelong learning. No one can remember the appropriate workup or management for every single disease or chief complaint. Rather, it’s more important to know your limitations and understand how to use the resources available to you. If you know how to thoroughly research a question and effectively follow up, you’re well on your way to becoming an excellent resident. What inspires confidence in you from your supervisors and trust from your patients is how you come up with an educated plan. And once you’re the one determining treatment decisions, you’ll realize that simply “knowing everything” isn’t nearly as valuable as knowing how and where to find helpful clinical information.

Master these elements now, and you will be well prepared for residency!

Cambridge Coaching has the most qualified team of medical school writing coaches available anywhere.  Our team is composed of MD, MD-PhDs, and professional writers because we understand that the best coach is going to help you produce a dazzling AMCAS essay, as well as a suite of supplementary materials that provides a persuasive, integrated argument for why you belong in medical school.

The challenge of the medical school application process isn’t just due to the workload, either. It has to do with the sheer competitiveness of the system. You can’t take anything for granted; every aspect of your application has to be solid - your GPA, your MCAT, your recommendations, your interviews, your activities, and your personal statement. That’s why we go beyond the usual options and offer coaching that covers the entire application, not just your personal statement. While we are happy to work with clients on a single essay or drafts, we find that we achieve the best results with clients who work with us throughout their application process - from the MCAT through to the admissions deadlines.

Schedule a Free MD Candidacy Assessment

Applying to Medical School in 2020-21? Check out some other helpful blog posts below!

Applying to medical school with a low MCAT score

How to choose the right medical school for you

Tips for creating your medical school application school list


academics MCAT study skills SAT medical school admissions expository writing English college admissions GRE GMAT LSAT MD/PhD admissions chemistry math physics ACT biology language learning writing strategy law school admissions graduate admissions MBA admissions creative writing homework help MD test anxiety AP exams interview prep summer activities history philosophy career advice academic advice premed ESL economics grammar personal statements study schedules admissions coaching law statistics & probability PSAT computer science organic chemistry psychology SSAT covid-19 CARS legal studies logic games USMLE calculus parents reading comprehension 1L Latin Spanish dental admissions DAT engineering excel political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches chinese research DO MBA coursework Social Advocacy case coaching classics genetics kinematics skills verbal reasoning ISEE academic integrity algebra business business skills careers geometry medical school mental health social sciences trigonometry 2L 3L Anki FlexMed Fourier Series Greek IB exams Italian MD/PhD programs STEM Sentence Correction Zoom amino acids analysis essay architecture art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics biochemistry capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chromatography climate change curriculum data science dental school diversity statement finance first generation student functions gap year harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science information sessions integrated reasoning international students investing investment banking mba meiosis mitosis music music theory neurology phrase structure rules plagiarism presentations pseudocode secondary applications sociology software software engineering teaching tech industry transfer typology virtual interviews writing circles