Third-Year Pearls

May 24, 2024 // Naden Kreitz, BS

The third year of medical school—a much-anticipated milestone for us all. Looking back on my journey through this pivotal phase, I'm filled with gratitude for the invaluable experiences and lessons that will undoubtedly shape me as a future physician. Now that my third year is drawing to a close, I'm eager to share 5 pieces of advice for those gearing up to embark on this adventure:

    1. Maintain Humility: As you step into the realm of clinical practice, it's natural to feel a surge of excitement and empowerment. However, it's essential to check this enthusiasm with humility. Despite the eagerness to contribute, remember that as a medical student, you occupy a humble and important position on the healthcare hierarchy. Approach every task with gratitude for the opportunity to participate in patient care. By prioritizing service and empathy, you'll discover purpose in even the most routine duties, fostering enduring memories and enriching experiences. 
    2. Foster Curiosity: The third year is a whirlwind of activity, with little time for contemplation amidst the clinical hustle. Amidst the chaos, don't forget to pause and question. Take a moment to delve into the rationale behind medical decisions, seeking to understand the "why" behind every action. This habit of inquiry is the cornerstone of transformative learning. 
    3. Cultivate Patient Connections: Amidst the multiple responsibilities of clinical rotations, seize the opportunity to forge meaningful connections with patients. Building rapport not only enriches patient care but also deepens your understanding of medical conditions on a human level. As the medical student on the team, there is a unique opportunity to spend more time with patients and being able to develop a personal connection that will allow for growth in your journey of becoming a physician. 
    4. Resist the Urge to Compare: In the competitive landscape of medical education, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparison. However, remember that each student's journey is unique. Set your own goals and benchmarks, celebrating personal achievements without undue comparison to others. Additionally, try to adopt a spirit of camaraderie, supporting your peers in their endeavors. 
    5. Give Grace: Ultimately, it's crucial to extend grace to both yourself and those around you. Acknowledge that you won't have all the answers or execute every task flawlessly from the get-go, and that's perfectly fine. Embrace the third year as a period of learning and personal growth, allowing room for mistakes along the way. Whether you enter with a clear career path in mind or find yourself reassessing your goals midway through, grant yourself the grace to navigate this journey at your own pace. After all, it's the bumps and detours that often lead to the most profound discoveries and personal growth.

In essence, navigating the third year of medical school requires a delicate balance of humility, curiosity, and adaptability. Embrace the challenges, cherish the victories, and above all, approach each day with gratitude for the privilege of learning and serving patients. 

Naden Kreitz, BS, is a third-year medical student at the University of South Alabama and is a member of SMA's Physicians-in-Training Personal Development and Wellness Subcommittee.

Image from
Posted in: Physicians-in-Training
SMA Menu